Alaska Dental Therapy Education Program earns national education accreditation
In August 2020, the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) granted accreditation to the Alaska Dental Therapy Education Program (ADTEP).
A monumental step in advancing oral health equity, especially for Tribal communities, the recognition is a first for the mid-level dental education program which has continued to bring community-driven oral health solutions to communities across the state.
Once considered controversial, ADTEP started in 2004 certificate education program at ANTHC to hire full-time trained and qualified dental health professionals, in communities where doctorate-level dentists usually only visit locations once per year. Dental therapy is a proven step to expand cost-effective access to dental care delivering better oral health outcomes for Alaska Native people while creating a diverse and culturally-responsive dental workforce.
In Alaska, dental therapists provide regular access to dental care to 40,000 people living in rural communities bringing care to people where they are, while simultaneously improving the health of the communities across the state.
Now, ADTEP is a successful associate degree program at Iḷisaġvik College in Utqiaġvik, in partnership with Alaska Pacific University and ANTHC. Graduates of the program provide dental care in 12 states and have expanded access to dental care for many patients.
Continued investment in rural health care: Focus on health education
Since ANTHC’s inception, our Tribal leadership has continuously recognized that the next step in true ownership of our health care system is to prepare our young people for the health careers of the future. ANTHC’s Tribal management has put the hiring and development of Alaska Native employees at the forefront to better serve our people and continues to offer new ways to enhance our workforce to prepare for the emerging health needs of Alaska Native people.
ANTHC Education and Development Center
In 2020, ANTHC continued construction on the new Education and Development Center (EDC) on the Alaska Native Health Campus in Anchorage. The Consortium’s Board of Directors is committed to developing a rural health provider workforce who are always prepared to serve the ever-changing health needs of our people.
ANTHC is making a new investment in the people who are the front line of our health system – – the dedicated community health aides and practitioners, dental health aides and behavioral health aides.
The EDC is a dedicated hub which supports statewide rural provider training and education along with nursing and medical continuing education programs. It also provides an opportunity for more collaborative training among community, dental, and behavioral health aides; dedicated space for required clinical education for physicians and nurses; and expanded health career training partnerships.
Well trained rural providers increase access to care closer to home and reduces the health inequities many Alaska Native people experience. We look forward to contributing to new education and career opportunities; new economic opportunities in rural locations; and cost savings in health care for the Alaska Tribal Health System.