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INBDE - Kathy Wong ('21)

Not a fan of the two-part written dental licensure examination? Soon dental students will need to endure only one sitting of brain frying examination. A major change in dental education in 2018 is the launch of the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE) in 2020 to replace NBDE Part I and II, which will retire in 2020 and 2022, respectively. This decision was spearheaded by the Joint Commission of National Dental Examinations ( JCNDE) and supported by ADEA’s Commission on Change and Innovation (CCI). While both examinations serve the same purpose of assuring the qualifications of candidates seeking to practice dentistry in the U.S, this new format will shift away from rote knowledge and emphasize more on the clinical relevance of basic biomedical and dental sciences. New exam will likely include questions regarding patient care, decision making and advances in the profession. INBDE will include 500 items, making the number of questions 400 less than NBDE Part I and II and is anticipated to take one and a half day to complete. During the transition period,students who have taken NBDE Part I have the options of taking Part II until administration ceases in 2022 or INBDE with a maximum of five attempts.

With this change in the assessment landscape comes challenges for both dental students and educators. To prepare students on previously untested topics, dental schools will likely need to modify their curriculum. In a study that evaluates the attitudes of top administrators of U.S dental schools towards INBDE, a majority of respondents were in favor of an integrated exam. Most schools reported employing strategies to accommodate the new exam style such as curriculum modification and faculty retraining. The beginning of fourth year and end of third year are frequently reported times to take the exam. Polarized opinions regarding INBDE can be found in informal Student Doctor Network online forums. Supporters like the clinical aspect of the exam as it will be more relevant to third and fourth years students who spend most of their days in the clinic. Also, they believe one and a half days of INDBE instead of four days of NDBE combined is less stressful and less time consuming to prepare. On the contrary, some students have voiced concerns over the lack of preparation materials and guidelines and the stress of a single high stake licensure exam. While doubts and concerns are inevitable during the transition period, JCNDE have worked hard to enable a smooth transition by maintaining the same Five Years/Five Attempts retest policy of NBDE Part I and II, conducting pilot exams and surveys as well as releasing sample questions. Practice analysis results from 2015-2016 received an overall positive feedback and suggested that most participating dental students were capable of applying their science and clinical knowledge to accurately answer sample INDBE questions. There is still a few more years before the implementation of INBDE in 2022, yet considering the progress already in place, INBDE surely seems promising to the future generations of dental students!

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