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University of Iowa News Release

 

Jan. 22, 2007

UI, Delta Dental Partner To Help Recruit Dentists To Rural Iowa

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry has received a three-year, $150,000 grant from Delta Dental of Iowa to help retain dentists in rural Iowa, where 79 of Iowa's 99 counties are considered dental shortage areas.

The grant will fund a new position, Iowa practice opportunities coordinator, that will manage recruitment of dentists to rural, underserved communities throughout the state and help match Iowa's dental graduates with open practice sites. Debra Hoyle of Iowa City was recently hired as the opportunities coordinator.

"Recruiting dentists to Iowa communities currently relies on individual dentists, dental practice brokers or economic development and community leaders. The college is in a unique position to coordinate the linkage between dental students, practicing alumni and Iowa communities," said David Johnsen, D.D.S., dean of the UI College of Dentistry. "We anticipate this new position will assist in retaining Iowa dental graduates and placing them in high need areas of the state. The college is very grateful to Delta Dental for funding this position to address access to care issues."

The Iowa practice opportunities coordinator will work with Iowa communities' chambers of commerce, the Iowa Departments of Economic Development and Public Health, the Iowa Dental Association and the UI Dental Alumni Association to identify communities seeking a dentist and facilitate placement.

"Delta Dental of Iowa is pleased to collaborate with the College of Dentistry on this important project to meet the growing needs of Iowa's underserved and aging populations," said Dr. Ed Schooley, D.D.S., Delta Dental vice president and dental director. "We recognize both the public health impact and the economic impact a dental practice can have in a rural community."

Delta Dental's three-year commitment to the university position is funded by the not-for-profit company's Public Benefit Program, which in 2006 provided more than $475,000 in grants to Iowa oral health care projects. The mission of the Public Benefit Program is to meet the oral health care needs of Iowa's underserved population through prevention, education, access to care and research oriented programs.

Delta Dental's grant to the UI College of Dentistry is in addition to the company's annual Loan Repayment Program, which provides dental education debt replacement for dentists who commit to serve Medicaid-eligible patients in rural Iowa communities. Dentists in the Delta Dental Loan Repayment Program have performed more than 25,000 treatments for more than 11,000 Medicaid patients since the company's repayment program began in 2002.

Additional background information provided by Delta Dental of Iowa:

-- Iowa's dental workforce is aging. Approximately 50 percent of Iowa's practicing dentists are over age 50.

-- Seventy-nine of Iowa's 99 counties are dental shortage areas; 12 of the 79 counties are considered critical shortage areas.

-- The Iowa population is aging and, in general, people are retaining their teeth longer, creating a high level of demand for dental services.

-- The predicted dental workforce shortage will adversely affect the access to oral health care for economically disadvantaged populations, residents of rural communities and people who already face barriers to care.

-- A dental practice in Iowa is estimated to have an average economic impact of $1.3 million, or $1.6 billion statewide

-- Iowa communities interested in recruiting a dentist should contact the UI College of Dentistry at 319-335-9865.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACTS: Media: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu. Program: Jed Hand, associate dean, UI College of Dentistry, 319-335-7146; Cindy Deppe, Delta Dental of Iowa, 515-261-5536.