Left to right: Abdulwahab Al-Tikriti, Nitish Tewari, Ruchita Shah, Hanaa Selim-Gobriel and Zainab Bhagat.
(Mirza Hasanefendic, WesternU)

Five students who were professional dentists in their country of origin have started a new 26-month advanced standing International Dentist Program (IDP) at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California.

IDP is part of WesternU’s College of Dental Medicine (CDM). It is designed to award a DMD degree to students who have graduated from dental schools outside of the U.S. or Canada.

The inaugural class, who started in March 2019, participate in an intensive 10-week course to expose them to CDM’s curriculum so they can be ready to join fellow second-year dental students in clinical rotations either at the WesternU Health Dental Center or at offsite clinics.

Beginning summer semester in June 2019, they will be integrated with the rest of the approximately 69 students in the Class of 2021.

“These students are impressive people in what they’ve gone through to get here to this country,” said CDM Associate Dean for Clinical Initiatives and Program Development David Lazarchik, DMD. “They can’t practice dentistry in the U.S. and are working as dental assistants, on dental research, or in other areas of the dental industry. Their ultimate goal is to get a DMD degree from the U.S., pass the clinical board exam and work as a practicing dentist here.”

CDM is implementing this program because it provides international visibility as a quality and comprehensive dental education program, fulfills a need for granting DMD degrees to foreign-trained dentists as recommended by the Dental Board of California, increases the diversity of the student population and enriches the culture of the College and University, and it would bolster the applicant pool for open faculty positions, said Lazarchik.

Approximately 200 applications were received for five seats in the program. This year’s students hail from Egypt, Iraq and India.

IDP students who were accepted are permanent residents or U.S. citizens. Applicants for the Class of 2022 have similar application requirements pending a mandatory update and approval from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), administered by U.S. Departments of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Once approved, WesternU CDM IDP would be able to accept applications from students requiring an F-1 student visa, providing an opportunity for a larger applicant pool.

To learn more about the WesternU International Dentist Program and its application requirements, please click here.