TAMBCD’s pipeline program making strides for access to education and health care, Lacy tells House committee

October 10th, 2014

When Dr. Ernie Lacy graduated from Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry in 1994, she was one of eight students who identified themselves as underrepresented minorities. At that time, the group constituted just 8 percent of her graduating class. The underrepresented minority composition of the state was different 20 years ago, as well. Today, Texas must produce an increasingly diverse health workforce in order to achieve better access to care in its underserved communities.


Dr. Ernie Lacy

The dental school in Dallas is responding to this call for action through Bridge to Dentistry, Lacy told the House Select Committee on Healthcare Education and Training on Oct. 6 during an invited testimony in Austin, Texas. As a result of the college’s pipeline program and the vital role it plays in making health care education more accessible to underrepresented minority students, incoming classes are 33 to 38 percent URM, said Lacy, who is executive director of the Office of Student Development and Multicultural Affairs. We know that dentists from underserved communities and populations are most likely to provide care for these citizens, she explained.

Now funded in part by a five-year Center of Excellence Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Bridge to Dentistry comprises several initiatives designed to expose and recruit underrepresented minority students to dentistry as a career.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the program’s successes that Lacy shared with state representatives:

  • Presentations to 68,871 elementary school children regarding dental health and dentistry as a career through Project Dental Awareness, which started in 2000.
  • Since 1997, Summer Pre-Dental Enrichment Programs for high school and college students have exposed nearly 1,500 students to the profession.
  • Since 2002, 123 students have successfully completed the Post-Baccalaureate Program and entered TAMBCD.
  • Since 2007, TAMBCD has had the greatest total underrepresented minority enrollment among nonminority schools.
  • TAMBCD retains and graduates more than 90 percent of its underrepresented minority students.

— Jennifer Fuentes