Training Dentists for Rural Areas

Training Dentists for Rural Areas


Greg Chadwick: Every year or two the public health departments all do a survey of what are the needs. Dentistry in the rural and underserved areas always ranks very very high. Alex Crisp: At ECU we feel like it’s important to bring healthcare to people in rural communities, just as people in urban communities should have it. Because everyone is entitled to healthcare. Greg: We have a hundred counties. 85 of them are rural. 15 of them are urban. About half of the population lives in the 85 rural counties. We have three counties that don’t have any dentists. We need to improve the health of the people in rural and underserved areas in the state. The first thing is to get the right people into dental school. When you look at patient populations in a rural setting, many times they might not have seen a physician or a dentist for five or ten years. Rebecca Ferguson: Well I want to return to the mountains because that’s where my family is. And that’s where I grew up and that’s my home. They focus on overall healthcare rather than just dental medicine and dentistry. Because we may be the first medical professional these people see. Alex: Our facilities are brand new and our actual school itself is right around the corner from being complete, so we’re all excited about that. It’s state-of-the-art, all the newest things you could imagine. But ultimately the committment to serve is to serve the underserved, the people that need the most. That’s what really brought me out here to Greenville. Greg: But we’re also, with our unique model of dental education, we will have our senior students out in rural and underserved areas in our community service learning centers, in ten rural communities across the state. Rebecca: One thing that really attracted me to the ECU School of Dental Medicine was the community outreach, or the community learning centers, especially since one of them is about fifteen minutes from my hometown. Greg: One of the gifts that the state has given us is subsidizing the dental education. If you’re coming in with two, three, or 350,000 dollars worth of debt, there’s no way you’re going to be able to go out into a rural and underserved area where you may want to practice. What’s going to happen is we’re going to graduate students with low enough student debt where they can afford to go back to a rural area and practice.

Author: Kevin Mason

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