UNE’s first Key Oral Health Scholars begin dental rotations in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties


2016 Key to Oral Health Award Recipients. Front row (L-R): Chelsea Toussaint and Dzhuliya Servetnik. Back row (L-R): Thahn Huynh, Adam L’Italien, Dustin Nadeau, Nathan O’Neill.

2016 Key to Oral Health Award Recipients. Front row (L-R): Chelsea Toussaint and Dzhuliya Servetnik. Back row (L-R): Thahn Huynh, Adam L’Italien, Dustin Nadeau, Nathan O’Neill.

University of New England (UNE) has sent its inaugural group of fourth-year dental students to complete 12-week clinical rotations across northern New England. As UNE medical, pharmacy, social work, and other health professions students also start their clinical training, plans are underway at UNE’s Center for Health Innovation for some of them to join their dental student colleagues as interprofessional teams in select sites to learn from, with, and about each other as well as to provide the breadth and depth of an interprofessional evaluation of complex patients for the clinical sites. FMI: www.edu/clinical-interprofessional-curriculum and Ian Imbert, MPH (207-221-4625 iimbert@une.edu).

A group of the dental students, known as Key Oral Health Scholars, are the first participants in the Key to Oral Health program, a joint initiative of UNE and KeyBank. The Key to Oral Health program is designed to address the shortage of dental health providers in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties, two geographic areas of demonstrated oral health need.

With 15 of 16 counties identified as dental health shortage areas and a high percentage of practicing dentists reaching retirement age within the next five to 10 years, increasing Maine’s dental workforce pipeline has heightened in importance. Through generous funding from KeyBank of Maine and the KeyBank Foundation, a select group of UNE dental students have been chosen to represent the University and provide patient care at clinical sites in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties beginning in June 2016.

The Key Oral Health Scholars were chosen for their commitment to serving rural and underserved areas of Maine and their residents. The selected students demonstrated a strong history of community service, had a meaningful vision for addressing critical oral health problems in Maine, and outlined an engaging service learning project that they plan to implement. Each awardee receives a comprehensive package that includes scholarship support, housing stipends, travel assistance and dedicated funding to engage the community in a robust service project. The program’s long-term goal is to encourage UNE dental students to return and build practices in these underserved areas upon graduation.

In addition to bolstering the dental workforce in these counties, the program provides a unique learning opportunity for the students. During their rotation in Federally Qualified and other health centers, they will work with the public, providing oral health education in area schools and senior centers. The program will also connect students with business leaders and local dental professionals, facilitating the development of relationships with community members.

The 2016 Key Oral Health Scholar award recipients are:

Thanh Huynh – Da Nang, Vietnam
Adam L’Italien – Enfield, Maine
Dustin Nadeau – Brunswick, Maine
Nathan O’Neill – Calais, Maine
Dzhuliya Servetnik – Westfield, Massachusetts
Chelsea Toussaint – Madawaska, Maine

Over the course of this three-year project, UNE’s College of Dental Medicine will choose a total of 12 Key Oral Health Scholars. The university projects that the scholars will deliver a total of 4,000 to 5,000 oral health care patient visits by the conclusion of the program on May 31, 2018.

This program was made possible by a lead gift from KeyBank, which encouraged generous additional funding from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, the Fisher Charitable Foundation, and the PD Merrill Charitable Trust.

To learn more about UNE’s College of Dental Medicine, visit http://www.une.edu/dentalmedicine

To apply, visit http://www.une.edu/admissions

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