Melanie R. Peterson, a former longtime University of Louisville professor and administrator who joined the Indiana University School of Dentistry faculty in 2011 as director of hospital dentistry and the general practice residency, has been appointed the dental school’s assistant dean for admissions and students affairs, pending approval of the Trustees of Indiana University. She has also been named director of an advanced-standing degree program for international dentists.
In addition to overseeing student admissions and managing an office that serves a dental and allied dental student population of more than 500, Peterson will develop, implement and manage a new International Dental Program designed for foreign-educated dentists who wish to become licensed to practice in the United States. Dental practitioners in the U.S. must hold a dental degree earned from a U.S. dental school.
IU’s advanced dental degree program for international students, like others around the country, will be tailored to individual student progress but will typically reduce the length of training from the four years required in the traditional Doctor of Dental Surgery degree program to two years for students who have already trained as dentists abroad.
IU School of Dentistry joins about two dozen other U.S. and Canadian dental schools that have organized similar programs and are participating in the American Dental Education Association’s Centralized Application for Advanced Placement for International Dentists.
Up to 12 dentists will be accepted into IU’s inaugural International Dental Program, scheduled to begin July 1, 2013, and it is anticipated that 24 applicants will be accepted annually thereafter. The traditional DDS degree program accepts about 100 students annually.
The International Dental Program admissions process will operate parallel to the admissions process for the traditional program to ensure standards of the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation are met. As program director, Peterson will report to Christianne Guba, associate dean for academic affairs.
“Dr. Peterson has had extensive involvement with students and dental residents in a variety of academic capacities during her career, and she is exceptionally well qualified for both the assistant deanship for student affairs and the IDP directorship,” Guba said. “She brings an informed perspective to these positions with regard to managing career opportunities for students as they graduate, an increasingly important issue in a changing health care environment.”
Peterson holds dental and MBA degrees and a certificate in health professions education from the University of Louisville, and she completed a general practice residency at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Louisville. She served in the public health sector for 14 years before joining the University of Louisville School of Dentistry faculty as director of the advanced education in general dentistry program in 1995.
In 1999 she was appointed associate dean for clinical affairs, a position that was expanded three years later to include postdoctoral education. At the University of Louisville, she piloted a comprehensive care model for dental students that served as a precursor for the school’s current clinical system. She also conducted a dental provider workforce analysis for the Kentucky Department of Health and Human Services.
She is a past chair of the American Dental Education Association Section on Clinic Administration and an alumna of the association’s Leadership Institute and Drexel University College of Medicine’s Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine for Women program. She was the American Dental Education Association’s recipient of the William J. Gies Foundation Education Fellowship in 2006.