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Dental Student Helps Mentor Underrepresented Pre-Dental Students

Addison Glover, fourth-year dental student in the College of Dentistry, created the college’s Pre-Admission Workshop for Underrepresented Pre-Dental Students, a three-day workshop to provide resources and a support network for dental school applicants from historically underrepresented groups.

Addison Glover, a fourth-year dental student, wants to help increase diversity in the field of dentistry and to support future dental students from underrepresented communities.

Glover has created a new program in the UTHSC College of Dentistry to help future dental students from underrepresented communities prepare for dental school. The Pre-Admission Workshop for Underrepresented Pre-Dental Students, held April 14-16, provided guidance, resources, and relationship-building opportunities for dental school applicants.

The workshop offered information about the dental school application process, financial aid and scholarship resources, mock interviews, application review with admissions personnel, hands-on experience in the dental simulation clinic, professional headshots, and other resources. The program is designed to increase the number of successful dental school applicants from historically underrepresented groups and create a support network of dental students and experienced dentists.

“The PAW program was resoundingly successful at achieving its goals. In addition to students building lasting relationships with faculty, students, and administrative participants, they created a network within their cohort that continues to support and encourage each other,” Glover said.

Glover earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Medicine, Health, and Society from Vanderbilt University. During her sophomore year, she researched programs for pre-dental students and found a pre-admissions workshop for Native American students, created by Cristin Haase, DMD, MPH, at A.T. Still University.

“In undergrad, I did independent research on the oral health landscape of Native Americans, and for a population with one of the worst oral health statistics, there are very few Native American dentists. There are around 3,000 Native American and Alaska Native dentists and there are fewer female Native American dentists,” Glover said. “Going to that program was grounding and got me through the next two years of undergrad, because in that program we were all in the same boat of not having doctors or dentists to turn to.”

“It was life-changing to me when I discovered the Diversity and Inclusion Mini-Grant that is available across UTHSC,” Glover said. “I contacted Dr. Haase and asked to replicate her program, and she said absolutely, and that I had her full support.”

Glover sought to give the resources she received to future pre-dental students from any underrepresented group.

“I made the decision to open it to any underrepresented student, because it is important to work together,” she said. “We all have very different stories but the obstacles we face are similar, and I think we can help each other.”

Addison Glover

In high school, Glover, who is from Mustang, Oklahoma, saw her oldest sister, now a third-year medical student, serve at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. She knew she wanted to help others, and she was inspired by her sister to pursue dentistry and shadow at the same clinic.

“I ended up shadowing about 200 hours in high school and I loved it,” she said. “One of the dentists there was a woman, she was so good with her patients, and it was the first time I have ever met a female dentist.”

Since then, she has returned to complete internships at the clinic. “Their dental clinic is the best and they do important work,” she said. “And seeing that there is an option where I can be a dentist, become my own boss, and work in a system that helps people, was great to see.”

When applying to dental schools, Glover wanted to continue studying in Tennessee, and chose UTHSC, after seeing the college’s interest in her research experience.

“In my interview, they asked great questions about the research I did in undergrad, in which I conducted stress and trauma research in children and infants, it was an interesting take on trauma and interpersonal relationships,” she said. “I thought it was nice that they took the time or interest in that.”

Glover aims to explore the various avenues available in dentistry. “I want to be ‘all in,’ I want to say yes to everything, and with dentistry it gives me a great way to do that,” she said.

She is also driven to serve the special-needs community. “I have done a lot of work with special needs students, and in the interview, I was told they are opening a Special Needs Dental Clinic, and that was it for me,” she said. “The special-needs community is one that I am passionate about working with and making a core population in my future practice.”

Glover serves in multiple organizations, including as the secretary of the American Association of Women in Dentistry and the community service coordinator for the Public Health Dentistry chapter. She is also a member of the Society of American Indian Dentists, the American Student Dental Association, and Xi Psi Phi dental fraternity.

As a recipient of the Indian Health scholarship, a scholarship program for Native American students through the Indian Health Service, Glover will be working for the Indian Health Service for three years after graduates in 2024. In the future, she aims to have her own dental practice and mobile dental van.

This story was initially published in the Winter 2023 issue of Dentistry Magazine.