School of Dentistry awarded $1.9 million for new Dental Workforce Program

 School of Dentistry awarded $1.9 million for new Dental Workforce Program

 

grantimage The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry is one of three nationwide recipients of a $1.9 million grant from the Health Careers Opportunity Program to help enhance access to dental care for underserved populations by increasing diversity in the dental workforce.

The competitive three-year grant, awarded to Naty Lopez, assistant dean of admissions and diversity, will fund the dental school’s new Building Bridges to a Career in Dentistry for Disadvantaged Students Program. Lopez created the program as a way to increase the number of graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds by establishing early contact with middle school and high school students who have expressed an interest in a health field and are participating in special health-related programs.

Historically, Minnesota has been one of the least diverse states in the nation. Recently, that profile has changed. The nonwhite population is projected to grow from 14% in 2005 to 25% in 2035. In addition, the state is currently home to a burgeoning immigrant population and has the largest communities of Somali, Hmong and Liberians in the U.S. Over half of the population growth in the state is minority and tends to be younger. These rapid changes have contributed to oral health care disparities and provide challenges to educate a more diverse healthcare workforce.

The school’s new Building Bridges program will provide students from underrepresented communities with an opportunity to develop the skills needed to successfully, compete, enter, and graduate from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Says Lopez, “The goal is to begin early in the education process to develop a larger and more competitive applicant pool and, once admitted, to retain students preparing for dental careers.

To accomplish this, the dental school is partnering with the Minneapolis Public Schools to help recruit student participants to the project, and the Minnesota Urban Area Health Education Center, which will connect students with community-based opportunities. Other partners include the University’s College of Biological Sciences and College of Liberal Arts. Each will recruit faculty and teaching assistants to teach courses in the structured programs and help tailor the curriculum to the students’ needs.

Lopez says the program will be demanding. “It features such initiatives as a 22-weeek Saturday Academy for 20-30 high school seniors and middle school students, a six-week summer program and a one year post baccalaureate program for college students, as well as a four-year pre-matriculation program.” Participants will have hands-on opportunities to try their hand at dentistry in the school’s state-of-the-art simulation clinic and visit the school’s community-based outreach clinics. Writing workshops, leadership seminars and a session with parents on college admissions will also be included.

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry is one of three nationwide recipients of a $1.9 million grant from the Health Careers Opportunity Program to help enhance access to dental care for underserved populations by increasing diversity in the dental workforce.

The competitive three-year grant, awarded to Naty Lopez, assistant dean of admissions and diversity, will fund the dental school’s new Building Bridges to a Career in Dentistry for Disadvantaged Students Program. Lopez created the program as a way to increase the number of graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds by establishing early contact with middle school and high school students who have expressed an interest in a health field and are participating in special health-related programs.

Historically, Minnesota has been one of the least diverse states in the nation. Recently, that profile has changed. The nonwhite population is projected to grow from 14% in 2005 to 25% in 2035. In addition, the state is currently home to a burgeoning immigrant population and has the largest communities of Somali, Hmong and Liberians in the U.S. Over half of the population growth in the state is minority and tends to be younger. These rapid changes have contributed to oral health care disparities and provide challenges to educate a more diverse healthcare workforce.

The school’s new Building Bridges program will provide students from underrepresented communities with an opportunity to develop the skills needed to successfully, compete, enter, and graduate from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Says Lopez, “The goal is to begin early in the education process to develop a larger and more competitive applicant pool and, once admitted, to retain students preparing for dental careers.

To accomplish this, the dental school is partnering with the Minneapolis Public Schools to help recruit student participants to the project, and the Minnesota Urban Area Health Education Center, which will connect students with community-based opportunities. Other partners include the University’s College of Biological Sciences and College of Liberal Arts. Each will recruit faculty and teaching assistants to teach courses in the structured programs and help tailor the curriculum to the students’ needs.

Lopez says the program will be demanding. “It features such initiatives as a 22-weeek Saturday Academy for 20-30 high school seniors and middle school students, a six-week summer program and a one year post baccalaureate program for college students, as well as a four-year pre-matriculation program.” Participants will have hands-on opportunities to try their hand at dentistry in the school’s state-of-the-art simulation clinic and visit the school’s community-based outreach clinics. Writing workshops, leadership seminars and a session with parents on college admissions will also be included.

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  • Last modified on July 20, 2012