ADA program coing to Arizona school

March 21, 2011
ADA Community Dental Health Coordinator Pilot Project site to be at Arizona school.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The American Dental Association has announced opening of a fourth education and training site for students in its Community Dental Health Coordinator Pilot Project.

To read more about the ADA, go to ADA.

AT Still University Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health has finalized an agreement to open a CDHC program based at the institution’s Mesa, Ariz., campus. The program will host Cohort 3 CDHC students—the final class in the CDHC pilot project—who are training to work in American Indian communities.

The CDHC pilot project will create a new dental team member trained to improve the oral health of people who--for economic, geographic or cultural reasons--lack access to regular dental care. In their initial phase of training, students complete 12 months of online coursework administered by Rio Salado College in Tempe, Ariz. Upon successfully completing the didactic portion of their training, the students begin six-month internships.

Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry trains students to work in inner cities while the University of Oklahoma trains students to serve in remote rural areas. UCLA School of Dentistry hosted the first two cohorts of students training to work in American Indian communities.

Students in Cohort 1 completed their coursework in fall 2010. Cohort 2 students, also training at UCLA, will complete their training in fall 2011. The third cohort of students in the American Indian track, who will train in conjunction with ASDOH, will enter the program in March 2011.

“We’re excited to open this final phase of the CDHC project,” said ADA President Raymond F Gist, DDS. “ASDOH Dean Dr. Jack Dillenberg is committed to creating the best possible learning experience for them. And the school’s numerous ties to the American Indian community offer unique opportunities for our students.”

ASDOH’s Dentistry in the Community program provides services in Apache, Hopi, and other American Indian areas in Arizona and New Mexico. The school has a large contingent of tribally enrolled American Indian dental students and boasts a 100% graduation rate for those students. ASDOH’s American Indian graduates practice in American Indian communities.

Dr. Gist also cited the presence of Dr. George Blue Spruce, an American Indian dentist and a former U.S. assistant surgeon general, who is ASDOH’s assistant dean for Indian Affairs, calling him, “an eminent member of the dental community at large and an incalculable asset.”

“Cultural competence is a key to the CDHC’s success," said Dr. Gist. “Too often, people entering communities with which they aren’t familiar can encounter cultural or language barriers that impede their abilities to serve those communities. Among the target population types—urban, remote rural, and American Indians--the latter may present the greatest challenges to outsiders. The American Indian CDHC track has always taken this into account, recruiting students from the same communities in which they will serve.”

Dr. Gist also praised the the UCLA School of Dentistry faculty and administrators, who were instrumental in launching the American Indian CDHC track and will complete the course of training for CDHC Cohort 2 in fall 2011. Cohort 1 students completed their coursework at UCLA in 2010.

For more information, go to

To comment on this subject, go to