The distances in Alaska are vast. Even when they’re not neighboring communities are often cut off from one another during the winter as waterways freeze over requiring snow vehicles where once a boat would do. DHATs are meant to bridge the gap of yearly visits from itinerant dentists by living in these communities where they were raised and understand the culture. Many DHAT providers have a service region that extends beyond the base community where they live. Neighboring communities can add 80 more residents here, 100 more there, sometimes doubling their patient load above the base community. Even short distances require complex travel, usually by plane, to provide proper oral healthcare services to those who would not otherwise benefit.
Shawn MartinBethel, AK
Sponsored by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
“I am from the community of Bethel, the place where I was born and raised. I want to give my dental knowledge to the community. Some families can’t travel to Bethel to see a dentist due to insufficient money or time. That’s where I will come in and bring oral care to remote patients. Teach patients how to brush and floss. Tell them the importance of applying fluoride to their teeth. Teach children about cavity bugs and why they have to brush them off or have holes in their teeth. I will become a Dental Health Aide Therapist to provide preventive and routine dental care to my people.”