Welcome, Class of 2021!
This week, Columbia’s 80 new dental students were presented with crisp new white coats in a ritual that kicked off orientation and represented their welcome to the school.
The CDM class of 2021 is extremely diverse, but uniformly excellent. The student body is comprised of 20 percent underrepresented minorities and hails from 21 U.S. states as well as China and South Korea. Students graduated from 58 colleges with majors in wide-ranging subjects including architecture, theater, and neurobiology, to name a few.
No matter their previous areas of study, the students already demonstrate remarkable promise in their chosen field. The class’ average Dental Admissions Test score exceeds the 98th percentile and the ratio of students to applicants is 1:21. This driven group arrived on campus with impressive experience and focus; for example, one student had already completed his oral surgery externship prior to admission to dental school. Another student, a future clinician-scientist, has been conducting her own research since the eighth grade.
This class is matriculating at an important moment in the College of Dental Medicine's evolution. In September, the school will open a state-of-the-art clinical facility with the potential to help transform education, patient care, and research at CDM. Passive tracking technology, including de-identified video recording of patient care, will help students review and improve upon their work. Data collected also will offer tremendous fodder for research both within the school and outside.
The class of 2021 will be the first to experience a newly revamped biomedical curriculum, more strongly aligned with that of the College of Physicians & Surgeons. Grading systems and exam formats will be matched with P&S for the first time. Partnerships between the student bodies will deepen as dental students and medical students work in pairs in gross anatomy class. Additionally, CDM students will have new elective offerings in data sciences, entrepreneurship, operational tools and progress, among others.
These changes are designed to give students opportunities to lead in a rapidly changing field. But these students will seize such opportunities by drawing on the strength of their past.
“At the white coat ceremony, we saw more involvement and enthusiasm from the parents than ever before,” said James Fine, DMD, senior associate dean for academic affairs. “There are many students who are part of multigenerational families in the dental and medical professions. These students are carrying on a family tradition and you could see how important this is to them.”