Dental Fellowship is a Plus for Wisconsin Residents
Access to dental care for low-income individuals in rural Wisconsin is getting a needed boost through the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Fellowship program of Marquette University Dental School.
Rural areas face unique challenges when it comes to delivering health and dental care. There are half as many dentists per 100,000 people in rural areas compared to urban areas, according to the Rural Assistance Center. And less than 40 percent of the rural population has private dental insurance. In fact, rural residents are more likely than their urban dwellers to report that their last dental visit was because something was “bothering or hurting” rather than for preventive care.
To help address the problem, Delta Dental of Wisconsin’s Charitable Fund provides grants and scholarships to dental and dental hygiene students to improve access to care and develop the oral health workforce in Wisconsin. One important workforce grant is the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Fellowship for graduates of the Marquette University Dental School. Delta Dental’s Charitable Fund provides funding for two fellows each year.
Because many rural dentists don’t have the option of referring patients to detail specialists, they need extra training and additional capabilities in order to perform many procedures. The Delta Dental-funded fellowship provides that extended training.
Two community-based clinics, Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire and Tri-County Community Dental Clinic in Appleton, benefit from the program. Each clinic is matched with a fellow who, for one year, provides care, to more than 500 low-income patients. The program reduces waiting lists in those two communities, and provides the young graduates with extensive experience.
Marquette University Dental School leaders note the program helps achieve its goals to increase access to oral health care for underserved populations, increase the number of dental school graduates familiar with the needs of rural populations, and increase the understanding of the importance of public health dentistry.
“I believe this fellowship truly provides the tools and training needed to make a difference in the oral health of the communities I will one day serve,” said Adam Hammerback, a fellow currently providing dental care at the at Chippewa Valley Technical College.
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