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Federal funding broadens the number of dental care and health practitioners nationwide
Updated: 8/8/2013 3:30:00 PM
 

Federal funding broadens the number of dental care and health practitioners nationwide

Dental care professionals are among the medical workers who are being trained under a $12 million federal grant aimed at improving healthcare and dentistry services at medical centers nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the funding, which is part of the national Affordable Care Act, at primary care residency programs in 32 teaching health centers. More than 300 medical and dental residents are expected to be trained in the 2013-2014 academic year, which is double those who were trained last year throughout the country.

Administered by U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Payment Program is intended to expand residency training in community-based settings. 

In addition to dentistry students who practice both general and pediatric dental care, the residents will be trained in family and internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry.

"Teaching health centers help attract students who are committed to serving communities of need and prepare them to practice in these communities," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Students exposed to training opportunities in health center settings are more likely to stay in these communities and continue to contribute to the care of their residents."

Serving a wider population
The $12 million grant also increases the number of states that will have teaching medical centers from the current 14 to 21. The centers are located in a variety of medical settings that serve urban, rural and tribal communities.

Veterans and their families, minority communities, senior citizens, children and adolescents are among those the program is intended to reach. Many families do not have access to dental care because they can't afford the cost of dental insurance or out-of-pocket prices for dentistry services. Discount dental plans offer them an alternative that is more affordable by providing many dentistry procedures at reduced prices.

HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., said the program offers much-needed healthcare to communities that are often underserved.

"It brings hospitals, academic centers, health centers and community organizations together to provide top-notch medical education and services in areas of the country that need them most," she said.

The program provided funding to four health centers in both California and Oklahoma, three in Washington state and two centers each in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. One center is funded in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

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