August 10, 2018
Getting health care providers to settle in rural areas can be difficult. Some areas have only one dentist trying to meet the needs of the entire community. The wait for patients to get an appointment can be up to three months.
This summer 25 University of New Engand students are practicing a full scope of dentistry in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire under the supervision of licensed dentists. The students spend 12 weeks caring for patients and assisting dentists at various locations across those three states.
The dentists get help from the students at no charge, while the students get real experience working in a dental office. It’s a mutual learning experience. Dentists learn the latest techniques that +9students are taught at UNE and get updates on new technology.
Over the past two years students have performed 109,000 procedures under the College of Dental Medicine's Community-Based Education Program and through UNE’s Oral Health Center in Portland.
“The students are expanding the ability of the clinics or the practices to see more underserved patients,” James Koelbl, D.D.S., M.S., M.J., executive associate dean, College of Dental Medicine, told WCSH.
Some of the students who take part in the externships decide to stay in rural areas to practice after graduation.
C.J. Castonguay, D.M.D., '18 spent rotations at Harrington Family Health in Harrington and Katahdin Valley Health Center (KVHC) in Millinocket as part of the program. He is now practicing as a dentist at KVHC.
“I could work anywhere as a dentist, but here there is a definite need. We’re booking out to October, and I just started here,” he told WCSH.