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Boards to be Pass/Fail, what does this mean for residency programs?

Discussion in 'Dental Residents and Practicing Dentists' started by armorshell, 03.27.08.


  1. Thanks to Crack the NBDE
  1. armorshell

    armorshell Moderator Emeritus

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    From an email I received from one of our academic deans. Anyone heard of this? Any idea what effect it will have? Seems like that was the last objective criteria some schools have for their students.
  2. ice4804

    ice4804 Let the fun begin...

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    Wow...

    What effect will this have on dental schools that are already pass/fail? If the boards get changed too, residency programs will really have nothing to go on as far as grades are concerned. There will be no way to distinguish a C student from an A student.

    I don't really like the sounds of this...
  3. armorshell

    armorshell Moderator Emeritus

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    I have decided that if this becomes the case, and the most likely situation is they will roll parts 1/2 of the boards into 1 test, another testing modality will probably appear specifically for students wishing to specialize that will be for all intents and purposes exactly like Part 1, maybe even better. That or they'll just have people take USMLE Step 1 or COMLEX or the GRE or something stupid like that.

    There's no way they can make a decision without any objective criteria.
  4. NileBDS

    NileBDS SDNator Moderator Emeritus

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    Yeah, I agree ... It will be very interesting to see how this thing plays out. I have to honestly say that I am personally releived that I can watch this unfold, without being affected by its consequences.
  5. NileBDS

    NileBDS SDNator Moderator Emeritus

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    My initial thoughts too ... I don't feel as uncomfortable with the Pass/No Pass deal, as much as I do with the idea of them rolling both NBDE parts into one mega exam.
  6. crazy_sherm

    crazy_sherm å♪▼æ╬‼▄·

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  7. brycethefatty

    brycethefatty thefatone

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    This is a horrible idea. Horrible.
  8. brycethefatty

    brycethefatty thefatone

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    Some schools have an "Honors" "Pass" "Fail" gradient. But still -- this is a horrible idea, over all.
  9. Cold Front

    Cold Front Supreme Member

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    I haven't heard this from my school (yet!). However, I'm just curious about couple of things:

    1. how will this effect specialty programs? there is no way you can compare students from one school to another anymore. That was the purpose of Part 1 scoring system (just like the USMLE) is to identify competitive students and give them the chance to specialize. Will there be a beauty contest to select candidates for specialties now?
    2. what will old scores mean from here on? if they change it to pass/fail - what happens to people who got 90+ before the change took place, how will their scores be reported to post-grad programs in the future? just "PASS", and no score?

    :rolleyes:
  10. stdmufin27

    stdmufin27 It's H-O-T in Sin City

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    Man, when (year) would that bad boy be given? YIKES :scared:
  11. musl85

    musl85

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    great, of course this kind of change has to happen just as i enter dental school :rolleyes:..... should be interesting, i too would like to know how this will affect specialization.
  12. blankguy

    blankguy

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    I have no idea what this guys were thinking. I have serious misgivings about changing to pass/fail. If they made it so that it's pass with the actual score noted besides it then it won't be a big deal.
  13. sarah_bellum

    sarah_bellum ^ ban pls.

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    Isn't that functionally the way it is now?
  14. SoCalDent

    SoCalDent

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    I hope this doesn't put more emphasis on undergrad grades!:eek:
  15. armorshell

    armorshell Moderator Emeritus

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    Time to start writing letters/emails. They'll never know how much we disapprove unless we tell them.

    The Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations
    211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 600
    Chicago , Illinois 60611-2678
    800-232-1694

    If anyone can find an email post it up here, for now there's a webform to email them (supposedly) here: http://www.ada.org/ada/contact/email.asp?link=53
  16. blankguy

    blankguy

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    I don't like this. Did anybody see this coming? It seems like they made the decision unilaterally.
  17. Dukie

    Dukie Senior Member

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    I can't agree with you all completely. I've spoken with a few grad program directors at UNC and they have told me that the boards were never intended to be an admissions test. They are really supposed to be a pass/fail exam, in that if you can score 75 or better, you have reached an acceptable level to become a dentist. Unfortunately, with the lack of other comparative statistics, the boards have become an admissions test. I think this is an attempt to bring it back to its original purpose. Honestly, how does ones knowledge of biochemistry have any place in deciding whether they would be a good orthodontist or not? If this occurs, it will just put more emphasis on things like recommendations, activities, leadership, etc (which in my opinion, should be emphasized further).
  18. blankguy

    blankguy

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    It will be interesting to see how this evolves. Maybe they'll begin looking into GPA along with the rank.
  19. ice4804

    ice4804 Let the fun begin...

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    You could use this argument for just about anything you wanted...

    e.g. "So what if I've gotten D's in every history class, it has nothing to do with medicine."

    A good grade in biochem shows more than your knowledge of the subject matter. It is a testament to your strong work ethic and your overall ability to learn and apply.
  20. blankguy

    blankguy

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    You know. We first have to check that this is not an April fool hoax. It seems like if they go through with this it is going to be a royal pain in the neck for post doctoral programs to evaluate candidates for the next few years. First the old national boards, then the new national boards and now the pass/non-pass national boards. It really is going to make it harder on the directors to evaluate they can't screen out people like before.
  21. DREDAY

    DREDAY Senior Member

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    What you guys fail to realize is that the NBDE system right now is not being used correctly. The current NBDE exams are statistically made only to determine competency of the test takers. The statistics they use IS NOT valid to be used to compare one student to another. So the current system is broken. As it is right now the exam is ONLY TO BE USED to determine if a student is competent. However, because specialty programs are using the scores to compare applicants the National Board probably needs to make the exam P/NP in other to make sure that those that get 89 are not at a dissadvantage compared to one that received 90. In the NBDE now, someone who scored a 90 does not necessarily know more than someone who scored an 89, but because the scores are being compared as such, they need to get rid of the scoring. A new exam for "specialty" would be a more fair way of doing it. This way the exam and the statistics performed on the exam would be done specifically to determine which applicant is more qualified.
  22. DREDAY

    DREDAY Senior Member

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    Here is the thing though. The way this exam was designed and the way that the statistical analysis is done for the NBDE does not permit one to compare one score to another. RIght now a person who scores a 90 is assumed to know more than one who scores a 89. But because of the way the exam was designed and the statistics were performed, this way of comparing the 2 students is invalid.
  23. servitup

    servitup

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    Good point DREDAY. The exam does not allow comparison by percentile. The chart on the back is an average and therefore percentiles cannot be truly compared. If my test was harder than yours, I could get a lower score despite doing better than 99% of people who took my test.

    Also, I do NOT think that leadership, activities, etc. should be any more important than knowledge of biochem, for example. Why does being an ASDA officer make someone more qualified for ortho than knowing biochem?
  24. Typo

    Typo

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    I think this is exaggerated. While there may not be a difference between an 89 and a 90, there is definitely a difference between an 85 and a 90, and a 90 and a 95. If what you're saying were true, it would be arguable that someone who scored a 99 did any better than someone who scored a 75, and this is simply not the case. That's an extreme scenario, but I think you'll agree that there is a difference between the knowledge of people with scores that far apart.

    In my class, for example, there's a big difference in the amount of studying done by people who got 95+ compared to those with less than 90 (on the old format). Anecdotal, yeah, but the same is probably true for everyone else's class here. Specialty programs would never have used the scores for comparison in the first place if it were all a wash; it's not a perfect method of comparison like percentiles would be, but it's still a valid measurement for comparison. Its value for comparison lies somewhere between percentiles and strictly pass/fail.

    I agree with you, though - discriminating based on one point difference, i.e., "90 is the cutoff, we won't interview anyone with an 89" is extreme since the difference between that point or two is probably luck of the draw.
  25. blankguy

    blankguy

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    Guys we need to know more about how this will be implemented. They could make it pass/non-pass and note high scorers for example.
  26. Cold Front

    Cold Front Supreme Member

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    This doesn't make sense. Isn't that how it is right now? they are still reporting pass/fail with high/low scores. I think the new change means eliminating raw scores and composite scores.

    My guess is - they are changing the whole game. Since competition is so high to specialty programs, I think they will create their own exams for them (just like taking the DAT when people apply to dental school), with cut-offs in different subjects outside the basic sciences (more dental related topics, behavioral section, etc). To them, this might be a better way to compare students, rather than just using Biochemistry, Physiology, etc.

    my $0.03
  27. blankguy

    blankguy

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    Creating another exam would be a bad idea. We have to worry about national boards, regional boards and another exam? I don't think so. They've just changed the national boards with the result of the scores getting lower. It remains to be seen how they will tinker with the exam. Maybe it will just be a matter of reporting them as pass/non-pass. I think some of the residency programs that require GRE may begin putting more stress on that.
  28. rollypolly

    rollypolly

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    What I want to know is exactly when and how they are going to implement this new exam. They say that the new exam will be given in 2010, but what exactly does that mean? Will everyone who is due to take part I of the NBDE in 2010 be given this exam regardless of which graduating class they are in? If that is the case then the students in the class of 2012 that go to dental schools that take their boards after the first year will take the current exam, and students that go to schools that take the boards after the second year will take the new pass/fail exam. I understand that it may not be statistically correct to compare students based on their NBDE scores, but that sure is a lot more accurate then comparing them based on two completely different tests. I would think that it would be wise to implement the new test in a way so that all students from the same graduating class would take the same test (factoring UoP into that too). That way it would somewhat decrease (although not eliminate) the chaos in applications to residency programs.
  29. crazy_sherm

    crazy_sherm å♪▼æ╬‼▄·

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    My assumption would be that its handled in the same way that the recent change to the new format was made. The rollover was in January 2007, so If you took it before that, you could still take the old format. If you waited too long, then you had to take the new one. About 95% of my class made sure to take the old format because we didn't know really what to expect on the newer format.

    I understand your concern about having classes mixed, some with a score and some P/F when it come time to apply for programs, but you can't please everyone. They also have no control on applicants who have already graduated and also took the older exam.

    On a separate note, does anyone know how medical residencies evaluate their candidates? Are USMLE scores looked at heavily?
  30. 1992Corolla

    1992Corolla CheerioKing

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    I vote april fools. You won't slip this one past me.
  31. capisce?

    capisce? ssc machine

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    That's because the grad program directors at your school hardly ever rank applicants high who they don't "know". That's not a bad thing but Carolina matches people from their own dental school who spent 3 years with their lips attached to someone's ***.
  32. capisce?

    capisce? ssc machine

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    If this were the case and I were a program director, I would no longer rank students who came from P/F schools or those who won't provide a rank.

    The only objective measure of academic performance would be class rank. GPA is insufficient because it varies so much from school to school. If boards went P/F and program dirctors took this stance, it would force a change from the schools that opt out of class rank and have p/f.
  33. UNR.Grad

    UNR.Grad

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    Per one of the writers of the exam: "There is discussion at the ADA level of making National Boards Pass/Fail but nothing is official yet."
  34. Cold Front

    Cold Front Supreme Member

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    The first time I read about this was couple of weeks ago:
    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?p=6379458

    Then the OP said that he got an email from one of his academic deans. NYU posted the same info on their site. I don't think it's official to the students who haven't approached their deans yet, but you can always wait for that email from him/her to make it official! I'm sure if one deans knows, others deans know about it too.
  35. TomTomDDS

    TomTomDDS

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    I also agree with armorshell, don't silently and passively disapprove it. Speak up and write to them. At least ask for more information.
  36. blankguy

    blankguy

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    It may be a bit rash to write to them now without knowing the full details of how it is going to be implemented.
  37. NileBDS

    NileBDS SDNator Moderator Emeritus

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    I personally don't think it is a bad idea. It seems to work for most west coast Advanced Standing Programs (foreign trained admission) ...

    As long as that test too does not eventually become a Pass/No Pass, it would more accurately predict an applicants sincere interest in his/her discipline of interest, and not basic sciences and standardized MCQ test taking.
  38. full bony

    full bony

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    I'm with Dr DreDay. The exams are flawed and ask questions that are out of day/antiquated. If you poll program directors I would argue that most do not see a correlation b/t test scores and the quality of resident. There will always be something new and if you view it as an obstacle it will be. I would suggest that you concentrate on becoming a well rounded applicant.
  39. kato999

    kato999 Senior Member

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    I agree that the NBDE is flawed, but without some test that is related to dentistry that every single applicant has to take there is NO objective method to decide which candidates get interviews.

    Understand that most ortho programs get 100-500 applicants and have to narrow this list down to 15-50 people to decide to interview. While the NBDE may not be perfectly objective, it is the closest thing the directors have by far as a measuring stick to make an initial cut. Grades are useless, class rank is okay, but some schools are more difficult than others, and P/F schools are becoming more common. Letters of rec are subjective as well.

    If NBDE is P/F I wouldn't surprised to see some directors make the applicants take the USMLE or some other test.
  40. Regmata

    Regmata Member

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    I'd prefer my class rank and gpa in dscool over a board school any day...would alleviate the pressure over a summer that i desperately need
  41. armorshell

    armorshell Moderator Emeritus

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    Surprisingly, I actually received a response to my inquiry:

    Looks like the next step is to figure out what the specialty programs are going to do. Is there an organization that has oversight over postgraduate dentistry, or is that just the ADA/ADEA?
  42. DREDAY

    DREDAY Senior Member

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    At the ADEA conference last week, discussions have already begun on how to address the lack of an objective measure for specialty acceptance.
  43. blankguy

    blankguy

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    What are some of the ideas that have popped up?
  44. jpollei

    jpollei Senior Member

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    Agreed about the idea of class rank. It is used by most dental schools in some form presently, and could be straightforward to implement in those where it's not in place. Doesn't mean grades have to be reinstituted, but it does put the onus on dental schools - and not residency programs - to solve the problem of not being able to use boards.

    It will be interesting (provided this occurs) to see if there will be a shift in applicant interest for those who were previously intent on getting into a dental school where boards were heavily stressed, to getting into a school that may be perceived as being easiest to do well at.
  45. capisce?

    capisce? ssc machine

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    The topic came up in our staff meeting today here in our residency. As has been confirmed, our program chair discussed the latest. According to him, this decision was made without any representative of specialty or AEGD/GPR programs present. That's pretty significant since the change most directly affects those groups specifically. It was his opinion that this is not set in stone (despite what was released) and there is an active appeal on behalf of post-grad programs from multiple sources.

    To those arguing that the board exams are an antiquated entity. I do agree that the test is a bit outdated, but I still strongly believe that it is a necessary component of a post-grad application. Anywhere there is an application process in life, there has to be some sort of system to quantify/rate applicants. Otherwise, it would be impossible to justify choosing one person over another. Any system without these checks and balances is open to corruption, whether it's financially or in another manner. Getting a high score on part I (let's say 90+) is pretty 'easily' obtained if someone with average to above average academic ability puts in the time and effort. It's pretty much a test of rote memorization, but that's how it serves its purpose. Those that put the effort and time into the test typically do well. Much in the same as those who put in the time and effort in dental school, which results in great letters of rec and a well-rounded person, makes a student a stronger applicant. Sure, that doesn't mean that they make a better orthodontist or oral surgeon but it means they put the work in to deserve a spot in a post-graduate program. Stripping applicants of a way to show that desire (board scores) does nothing but help those who are trying to get something for nothing. Yes, there are other ways to show desire but it's impossible to objectively compare them unless they are quantitative and standardized. For those who study hard and can't get a competitive score, well, sorry but that's life. There is always going to be someone better and someone smarter, and the sooner you realize it the better off you will be. This really is a terrible idea but it is what it is.

    [stepping down from soapbox]
  46. UNR.Grad

    UNR.Grad

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    The P/F curriculum of UCLA was a major draw for me, I wonder what will happen.
  47. gryffindor

    gryffindor

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    Sounds like the people from the pass-fail schools will get the shortest end of this stick. The other group to be somewhat screwed would be those coming from ranked schools who don't end up ranking in the top 10 (since a lot of dental school grades are ridiculously subjective) but could have scored a 95 on the board exam thus getting them noticed at a competitive residency.
  48. ptrianon

    ptrianon New Member

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    It is absolutely not true that most people with sufficient time and effort can get 90+ on the new format. Also, I am curious why everyone on this forum seems so against the change. How does this affect someone nearly accepted to a residency or already in residency?
  49. DREDAY

    DREDAY Senior Member

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  50. DREDAY

    DREDAY Senior Member

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    I haven't heard of the appeal but I doubt it will do anything. In the current system the National Board of Examiners can easily be sued by students because the scores are being used to measure something they were never intended to measure. Specialty programs will also be at jeopardy of a lawsuit if they use the Board scores as a criteria for acceptance. This is because the national Board of Examinors have said that the scores are not to be used as a comparative measure.

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