September 26, 2007
The California Endowment has awarded a $6.8 million grant to the state's five dental schools in an effort to boost diversity in dental education and deliver dental services to underserved communities throughout the state. The grant will support the California Dental Pipeline Program, which is a partnership among all of California's dental schools: Loma Linda University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Francisco; University of Southern California; and Pacific.
Pacific will serve as the administer the grant over the next three years, which aims to diversify the state's dentist work force. The program provides assistance to disadvantaged, underrepresented minorities who have completed their undergraduate coursework to successfully enroll in dental school, and provides dental students coursework and clinical experience in cultural competency to prepare them to treat the state's racially and ethnically diverse patient population.
"This funding represents a tremendous opportunity for dental schools to partner with community clinics and others to improve the oral health of underserved Californians," said Dr. Paul Glassman, co-director and administrator for the Pipeline Program and Pacific's associate dean. "The collaboration of all five California dental schools, the California Dental Association and the California Primary Care Association in this program is unique in the country. We look forward to using these relationships to demonstrate new models of care and to create and maintain oral health for all Californians."
In addition, the dental schools will form partnerships with Federally Qualified Health Centers throughout the state. Through the program, dental school senior students and residents gain experience serving racially and ethnically diverse communities by providing dental care services in community clinics to low-income Californians who otherwise would not have access. An estimated 89,000 low-income Californians will receive dental care through the Pipeline Program each year. This new funding builds upon $7.5 million in grants The California Endowment has provided to support the program since 2003.
Dentistry remains among the least diverse of the health professions. In California, only 4 percent of dentists are Latino and 2 percent are African American. In the four years since the California Dental Pipeline Program began, the percentage of first-year underrepresented minorities enrolled in California's dental schools has increased from 5 percent to 11 percent.
"By boosting the number of underrepresented minorities enrolled in California's dental schools, we can create a pipeline of Latino and African American dentists who, as research has shown, are more likely to practice in communities where there are critical issues of access to oral health care and documented disparities in oral health," said Ignatius Bau, program director for The California Endowment.
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well-being of the people of California. To date, The Endowment has awarded nearly 9,200 grants across California totaling more than $1.7 billion.
Category Type: Honors and Awards, Dental Issues and Research
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