Educators' and Applicants' Views of the Postdoctoral Pediatric Dentistry Admission Process: A Qualitative Study
Journal of dental education | 3 Nov 2015
K Ricker, P Mihas, JY Lee, JM Guthmiller, MW Roberts and K Divaris
The postdoctoral application and matching process in dental education is a high-stakes and resource-intensive process for all involved. While programs seek the most qualified candidates, applicants strive to be competitive to increase their likelihood of being accepted to a desirable program. There are limited data regarding either subjective or objective factors underlying the complex interplay between programs and applicants. This qualitative study sought to provide insight into the stakeholders' experiences and views on the matching process. Telephone and in-person interviews were conducted with ten pediatric dentistry program directors and ten recent applicants to pediatric dentistry programs in the United States in 2013-14. Participants were selected to represent the geographic (five districts of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) and institutional (hospital- or university-based) diversity of pediatric dentistry programs. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Veracity and need for more information were the themes most often articulated by both groups. The program directors most valued teachability and self-motivation as desirable applicant characteristics. The applicants relied primarily on subjective sources to gather information about programs and prioritized location and financial factors as pivotal for their rankings. Both groups appreciated the uniformity of the current application process and highlighted several weaknesses and areas for improvement. These results shed light on the postdoctoral matching process in pediatric dentistry via a qualitative description of stakeholders' experiences and viewpoints. These insights can serve as a basis for improving and refining the matching process.
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