UNE’s second cohort of Key to Oral Health Scholars begin dental rotations in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties

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University of New England (UNE)’s College of Dental Medicine has selected its second group of Key to Oral Health Scholars (KOHS) to participate in the Key to Oral Health Program, a joint initiative of UNE and KeyBank. The 2017 Key to Oral Health Scholar award recipients are:

Audra Boynton – Windsor, ME
Christopher Casgonguay – Rutland, VT
Hillary Creed – Etna, ME
Nicholas Guy – Hollywood, MD
Molly Kalish – Beaumont, PA
Anthony Preissler – Dudley, MA

The KOHS are fourth-year dental students who have been selected to complete a 12-week clinical rotation in northern New England in Maine’s Aroostook and Penobscot Counties. 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 12 UNE dental students have been chosen to represent the University and provide patient care at clinical sites in Aroostook and Penobscot Counties which began in June 2016 and will continue through May of 2018. 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.

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 service learning projects for the first group of KOHS included:

  • Providing oral health education during a Community Wellness Fair in Lincoln, Maine
  • Providing oral health education to students at Enfield Station School in Enfield, Maine
  • Conducting a survey and oral health exam to indentify the most prevalent oral conditions
  • Providing fluoride sealants to K-4 school children
  • Introducing students to dentistry as a career by providing simulated dental training to middle school children

The 2016 Key Oral Health Scholar award recipients were:

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

As of May of 2017, two of the 2016-2017 KeyBank Oral Health Scholars have returned to practice in Penobscot County. One student is employed at Health Access Network in Lincoln and another student is employed at a private practice in Newport.

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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