Second year students travel to remote Bethel, Alaska, 400 air miles west of Anchorage, to gain practical experience working with patients in real life clinical situations. Accessible only by air and river, Bethel is the largest community in Western Alaska and serves the health needs of more than 50 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim river delta. The training program has an up to date six-chair dental clinic where, since 2008, Alaska Native residents can go to have their oral healthcare needs met by DHAT trainees. Under the supervision of dentist faculty students bring into their clinical year everything learned in their first year classroom and pre-clinic laboratory. Upon graduation at the end of this clinical year, and following a 400 hour clinical preceptorship and federal certification, the DHATs return to their own communities to offer dental healthcare services that meet the most common needs of their fellow villagers.
Trisha PattonBased in Toksook Bay
Employed by Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
“Coming from a small community gives me a great opportunity to be familiar with the people of these communities. Growing up in a village with lack of resources and struggles encouraged me to strive for more: success, happiness and a better life. There was a time in my young life where I had no idea what I wanted to become, until I had become familiar with the DHAT program. I am confident in my career as a Dental Health Aide Therapist; I am making a difference in lives of people of my own and am honored to be improving access to dental care in these rural communities. I only look at my past struggles as something that made me a better and stronger person.”