A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) and the National Center for American Indian Health Professions recently hosted the fourth-annual American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Pre-dental Admission Workshop (PAW). The purpose of PAW is to help AI/AN college students who are preparing to apply to dental school navigate the application process and expand their professional networks. This year, five college students from across the country attended the free workshop.
ATSU-ASDOH alumnae Cristin Haase, DMD, MPH, ’17 and Sarah Hill, DMD, ’18 provided the prospective dentists with mentoring support. George Blue Spruce, DDS, MPH, assistant dean for American Indian Affairs at ATSU-ASDOH, welcomed them to campus.
According to the Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID), American Indian communities struggle with limited access to oral healthcare. In fact, SAID estimates there are fewer than 300 American Indian dentists serving a population of 5.2 million. Many of the students who participate in PAW plan to practice in the communities where they grew up, increasing access to quality dental care in rural American Indian communities.
In addition to preparing for the application process, PAW participants get hands-on experience in the dental simulation lab, one-on-one time with dental students and alumni, and a tour of the dental school. ATSU-ASDOH even provides the aspiring dentists with professional headshots.The event was funded by a grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Running Strong has supported PAW for the past four years through its Dreamstarter grant program.