Q&A: Dr. Rosa Chaviano-Moran, President of the Hispanic Dental Association

Dr. Rosa Chaviano-Moran

Dr. Rosa Chaviano-Moran, RSDM’s Associate Dean for Admissions, was elected President of the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) in January. For Hispanic Heritage Month, she reflects on her term so far and the needs of Hispanic patients, providers and students. She also shares her thoughts on the importance of using holistic admissions criteria to increase enrollment among underrepresented students of color. 

As president of the HDA, what have been your priority initiatives this past year?

I’ve been working to emphasize the iomportance of intraprofessionalism and having an inclusive membership. It’s important to welcome all members of the oral health team: dentists, educators, dental administrators, hygienists, dental assistants, dental technicians, dental therapists, and other healthcare providers. I’ve also collaborated with ADA on projects through the Diversity Summit Presidents’ Group, most recently with a September webinar titled “Assessing Systemic Racism in Dentistry and Building the Right Treatment Plan: A Call to Action.” The webinar explored issues that arise for dentists in a moment of global mobilization toward racial equity and inclusion. Achieving the goal of increased ethnic and racial diversity in the dental workforce will require work “upstream,’’ and perhaps the most critical of the upstream targets on which to focus are dental schools.

What should non-Hispanic dentists know when providing care to Hispanic patients?

You don’t have to be from a Hispanic background or necessarily speak the language. As dentists, we can develop skills to communicate with our patients about their perspectives and integrate new understandings into mutually agreed upon diagnostic and treatment plans. You should develop communication skills that transcend cultural differences. Build therapeutic partnerships based on respect for each patient’s life experiences and culture. Also, become aware of your own values and biases and how that might be affecting the way you work with patients.

What are some steps you’ve taken as RSDM’s Associate Dean for Admissions to boost enrollment among Hispanic and Black students, both of whom are underrepresented in the field of dentistry?

The RSDM Admissions Committee employs a holistic admissions process. In addition to quantitative metrics, such as a student’s GPA and standardized test scores, our admissions team also considers factors such as a student’s community involvement, working hours, leadership experience, familiarity with the profession, demonstrated compassion for others, motivation, status as a first-generation college student and unique backgrounds and perspectives. But it’s not just about racial and gender diversity. We also consider things like a potential student’s geography and socioeconomic status.