UNE gets grant to help Maine's dental provider shortage

The University of New England (UNE) College of Dental Medicine will use a $160,000 grant from KeyBank for a program that will encourage graduates to practice in two of Maine's underserved counties.

The Key to Oral Health program is an initiative with a long-term goal of encouraging select UNE dental graduates to practice in these underserved counties upon graduation. Fourth-year students selected for the program will participate in three-month, targeted, community-based service learning projects while completing their clinical rotations at federally qualified and other community health centers in Aroostook and Penobscot counties.

The students will deliver oral health education in local schools and senior centers, mentor high school youth interested in an oral health career, and provide an estimated 2,700 patient visits annually.

"We are so pleased to develop a dental workforce pipeline for Maine's rural and underserved regions in collaboration with KeyBank, which shares our sense of civic responsibility," stated Danielle Ripich, PhD, president of the University of New England, in a press release.

The funding will provide support for program management, dental student scholarships and stipends, service learning projects, and training for clinical preceptors. Fifteen of Maine's 16 counties have been identified as dental health shortage areas, according to the university.

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