Study finds dental students tend to under-report racist incidents

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racism in dentistry
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Dental students ‘felt compelled to put patients’ interests first’ despite racist comments, according to a new study in the UK that looks at discrimination faced by undergraduates.

Published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, the study by a team at the Queen Mary University of London analysed dental students and their understanding, experiences, and responses to racism in dental school.

The study found that dental students are likely to ‘under-recognise’ and ‘under-report’ racist incidents. This leads to racist attitudes and behaviours remaining unchallenged.

As a result, the researchers said it exposes an ‘urgent need’ for further research and that a lack of awareness presents a blind spot. Dental schools and its educators, they added, need to empower students and ‘help to build inclusive learning and workspaces’.

Of the 25 participants who took part, many were concerned about professionalism, not knowing how and when to respond to patients’ racist behaviour.

They described gender discrimination and intersectional biases—but ‘felt compelled’ to put patients’ interests first.

They were also unsure about how to respond to stereotyping or racism from staff due to perceived imbalances in the staff-patient-student triad relationship.

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