2020 Dental Match: A Strong Showing for CDM
The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM) recently marked a very successful 2020 Match.
In late January, the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program matched dental students into postgraduate programs in pediatric dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS), advanced education in general dentistry (AEGD), and general practice residencies (GPR); placements for other specialties such as orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, and endodontics were made in the fall.
Ninety-five percent of CDM graduates go on to pursue postgraduate training. An above-average number of these matches are into specialty programs: Nationwide, about 21% of dentists are specialists, whereas at Columbia, about 50% of students apply to specialty programs. CDM’s postgraduate match percentages consistently come in above the national averages.
“We have wonderful students who have a lot of interests,” said Laureen Zubiaurre, DMD, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Career Planning, accounting for their success. But the students aren’t left to their own devices. Working with a network of alumni, program directors, and staff, Zubiaurre helps students identify and pursue these interests, beginning almost as soon as they arrive on campus.
“In the fall we meet with all our first-years for career planning,” said Zubiaurre, and her office arranges opportunities for students to explore their interests in greater detail as they progress through dental school. A meeting with a postdoctoral program director might educate students about the merits and drawbacks of 4-year and 6-year postgraduate programs, or dinner with a division director might give students an opportunity to learn about life as a practicing oral-maxillofacial surgeon. As postdoctoral application season nears, her office recruits strong letters of recommendation and writes each student a dean’s letter highlighting his or her academic achievements and individual attributes.
By the time Match Day arrives, students are well prepared by Columbia’s faculty and staff, as well as by their own intellect, diligence, and ambition. The work pays off: “Our students have done incredibly well this year,” said Zubiaurre. “In orthodontics, we had 100% placement. In AEGDs, we had 100% placement; in oral surgery, 20 people applied, and 90% got into programs ... A thing that I love about Columbia is that I feel like we’re a family. We’re so proud of our graduates. Our goal is to get people to be what they want to be in the future.”
And that includes the students who might not place on their first Match Day. “It doesn’t always work out that students match to their first choice right away,” Zubiaurre explained. When that happens, her office swings into action, providing options, assisting students in deciding on their next steps, and calling on a wide network of contacts to continue to help students achieve their goals.
“A number of years ago we had two students who didn’t match for pediatric dentistry,” she recalled. “On Match Day they were very distraught. We worked with them and got them into a wonderful GPR program for children and adults with physical, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities.” During that yearlong program, the students worked together and became good friends. The following year they went on to match in the same pediatric dentistry program, and, Zubiaurre said, “they have really excelled. Today they’re in great practices in New York and New Jersey.”
This year, CDM performed 25% over the national mean on the initial match. The Class of 2020 will pursue a variety of specialties and professional paths: GPR and AEGD had a total of 32 students placing in those postdoctoral programs, followed by OMFS (19), orthodontics (10), pediatric dentistry (9), endodontics (5), periodontics (2), and prosthodontics (1). An additional five will be in military AEGD and credentialing tours, two will attend non-categorical OMFS internships, and three will go into private practice.