First UCSF student completes licensure by portfolio

The first student to complete the licensure by portfolio process at the UCSF School of Dentistry has graduated.

Jose Molina, DDS, who is now practicing as an associate dentist in Fresno, chose to obtain his licensure through this process because he felt it was a more "complete assessment" of his competency as a dentist. He also appreciated the fact that he was able to work on his own patients, providing follow-up care as needed.

The portfolio option gives students in California an alternative to being tested on a live patient over the course of one weekend, which is the method of assessing competency used in the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) exam process, as well as other examinations throughout the country. The portfolio process offers multiple benefits to students and patients, including letting students extend treatment over multiple patient visits, which reduces the stress of a one-time testing event and more closely simulates real-world care; providing an opportunity for patients to receive follow-up treatment as needed; and providing a method by which students are ready for licensure upon graduation.

"You actually provide treatment on a patient over a period of months and I felt like it prepared me well for joining a practice as an associate," Molina said.

The Dental Board of California in November finalized the regulatory process of approval for the portfolio examination model in California's dental schools, which is optional for both the schools and students. UCSF and the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry are the two schools CDA has been made aware of to have students obtain licensure by portfolio so far.

Peggy Leong, DMD, health sciences clinical professor, led the effort to implement licensure by portfolio at UCSF, working with a committee of students, faculty and other staff to come up with a plan for the school. There are now 30-35 calibrated faculty members at UCSF, according to Leong. Leong was Molina's "coach" during his licensure process, meeting with him monthly and going over what he needed to accomplish according to the Portfolio Pathway Candidate Manual sent to the school by the dental board.

"Dr. Molina was a strong advocate for this pathway, he felt he was much better equipped when he graduated than he would have been otherwise," Leong said.

Under the current portfolio examination, there is no licensure reciprocity with other states. The dental board hopes that as the examination proves itself a model for other states, licensure portability will follow. This wasn't an issue for Molina, however, as he is originally from Fresno, attended Fresno State University and had known for a while that he wanted to return there to practice when he finished dental school.

Dorothy A. Perry, PhD, professor and associate dean at UCSF, oversaw the administration arrangements in the process. She is proud of Molina and the school for adopting this new process.

"We are very excited about giving our students an opportunity for a licensure pathway that allows them to provide treatment on patients and have it embedded in the curriculum," Perry said. "Instead of a one-shot deal, like other clinical licensure exams, we were able to embrace a philosophy of comprehensive care during licensure. It's a great opportunity for our students who want to practice in California."

The Dugoni School of Dentistry also this summer graduated students who received their dental license via the portfolio licensure process. For more on this, read this article.

CDA and ADA policy supports the elimination of the one-time "live patient" clinical licensure exam and California's dental students have been quite active in California's process. Students hosted licensure forums at CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry in Anaheim and San Francisco in 2007, bringing together leaders from the dental board, CDA and selected dental school deans to discuss the future of licensure. In 2009, Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), introduced CDA-sponsored bill AB 1524, calling for the replacement of the California clinical examination with a "portfolio" model exam process that would take place over the course of students' clinical training in dental school. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law, and until this past November, it had been in the development phase. 

For more information on licensure, visit the dental board's website, dbc.ca.gov.

Updated: 08/19/15

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The first two dental students in the country have now completed the licensure by portfolio process. The University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry students, Daniel Feldman and Dan Beroukhim, accomplished this by building a portfolio of completed clinical experiences and clinical competency examinations in six subject areas over the normal course of their clinical training. Calibrated UOP faculty evaluated the examinations.