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CDA, California dental school deans and CDA dental student delegates began advocating in early April for a pathway to licensure for class of 2020 dental students whose clinical exams were canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of that advocacy work, WREB and ADEX manikin-based examinations are now accepted for licensure in California.
Following is a timeline of the coalition’s key achievements.
April 1: The coalition submitted a waiver request to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and the Dental Board of California. The request asked to waive the clinical examination requirement for initial licensure for graduating dental students given that WREB examinations have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 21: DCA responded that "the Department must balance consumer protection with the need to facilitate the continued provision of care to individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak," and that the waiver request could not be granted at this time. While the response was disappointing to the coalition, it was the response many other disciplines with similar waiver requests were receiving.
April 29: The second DCA waiver request requesting timely acceptance of the WREB and ADEX manikin-based examinations submitted by the coalition was denied. The explanation stated that the waiver request could not be granted since DCA does not have the authority to approve examinations. Instead, the letter claimed that it is up to the individual testing agencies to decide whether to offer a different exam format.
May 14: The dental board convened to discuss whether to formally ask the DCA Office of Professional Examination Services to review the legal defensibility of the new WREB and ADEX manikin-based examinations. Thanks to the multiple testimonies of coalition representatives, the dental board unanimously voted to have OPES review and submit a report to the dental board executive director as soon as possible.
The May 14 vote was a coalition victory as it proved that there was strong support for the alternative exam format from dental board members. Additionally, since WREB and ADEX had already developed modality reports and psychometric validity summaries that had already been submitted to DCA, and because OPES has already shifted its workload to teleconferencing, the coalition was confident that OPES would be able to assemble its review panel of psychometricians as soon as possible.
CDA immediately began working with dental board staff and DCA to identify the time frame for the OPES review and to determine whether, after receipt of the OPES report, any further action would be needed for dental school graduates to begin taking the manikin-based exams.
May 28: The coalition confirmed with the dental board and the DCA that although OPES will conduct its formal review of the exams as planned, no further action by the dental board is needed to approve the new exams as a pathway to licensure.
Effective May 28, graduating California dental students with passing scores on the WREB and ADEX manikin-based exams are permitted to use those scores to apply for initial licensure in California. The dental board on June 4 further clarified that WREB Comprehensive Treatment Planning Examination and the manikin-based ADEX Periodontal Scaling Examination will satisfy the required periodontal portion of the licensing examination.
Related article: Manikin-based WREB and ADEX exams will be formally reviewed as pathway to dental licensure