December 20, 2016
The University of New England is pleased to announce a $600,000 grant from Delta Dental Plan of Maine, a Northeast Delta Dental company, to develop a scholarship and loan repayment program for UNE College of Dental Medicine students and graduates. The grant supports a strategic initiative to build an intentional pipeline of UNE-educated dentists to designated rural and underserved areas of Maine.
Northeast Delta Dental is the largest provider of dental benefits in northern New England and was an important corporate partner in the development of UNE’s College of Dental Medicine. In 2010, Delta Dental Plan of Maine’s $2 million lead gift formed the foundation for the university’s successful dental college fundraising campaign. Together with gifts from the Delta Dental Plans of New Hampshire and Vermont and the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, their $2.3 million investment was essential to launching the first dental college for Maine and northern New England.
UNE’s dental college opened in 2013 and now enrolls over 250 students, including nearly 70 from Maine. The first class will graduate in May 2017. UNE-educated dentists are projected to alleviate a substantial shortage of dentists in the state. Fifteen of Maine’s sixteen counties are federally designated as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas.
With the $600,000 grant and additional investments from UNE’s College of Dental Medicine, Dean Jon Ryder and his team will implement a multi-layered plan on behalf of this project. The plan includes a College of Dental Medicine Community Outreach Coordinator who will liaise with dental students and community stakeholders throughout Maine in order to link students to practice opportunities available in underserved areas upon their graduation.
Delta Dental Plan of Maine’s generous funding will enable dental students with a demonstrated interest in rural/underserved areas to competitively apply for $10,000 scholarships available to those who complete their fourth year clinical rotations in areas of high need.
Finally, the Delta Dental Plan of Maine grant will create a substantial loan repayment fund for UNE College of Dental Medicine graduates who practice in underserved areas upon their graduation and licensure. UNE-graduated dentists who apply for and are accepted into this competitive program will receive up to $90,000 in loan repayment dependent on their years of service in the area.
“Delta Dental Plan of Maine has been a vital and committed partner to the College of Dental Medicine,” said Dean Ryder. “This grant will provide dedicated financial resources to students and graduates so they can practice in regions where dental care is currently difficult for residents to obtain. We are immensely grateful for their support.”
UNE’s evidence-based plan is rooted in national research showing that graduates are more likely to work in underserved areas if they engage in community-based rotations and are provided preparation for practicing in these areas. Additionally, research demonstrates that scholarships and loan repayment programs can be successful in recruiting graduates to areas of need, particularly for students originating from these areas.
Early surveys of UNE dental students indicate that 90% of those from Maine intend to remain in Maine for practice. Sixty-five percent indicate that education debt influences their post-graduation plans either very much or completely.
Tom Raffio, President & CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, was pleased to announce the grant to the UNE team and is enthusiastic about the project’s success. “Northeast Delta Dental is proud of its commitment to oral health and oral health care access. The Delta Dental Plan of Maine Board fully appreciates the need to develop a strong dentist pipeline to underserved areas of Maine. We are pleased to be an important stakeholder invested in UNE’s College of Dental Medicine and its mission, and look forward to meeting the first UNE-educated dentists selected to participate in this ambitious, patient-centered initiative.”
To learn more about the College of Dental Medicine, visit www.une.edu/dentalmedicine
To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions