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.
Bonnie JohnsonBased in Emmonak, AK
Employed by Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
“I was raised in a village that did not receive consistent dental care. Dental providers would come and go. Unfortunately, there were villages that did not receive any dental care. Now, I am a Dental Health Aide Therapist who is able to provide much needed dental care to 4 villages on the Yukon Delta. I am able to educate many that had little or no knowledge of the importance of good oral hygiene. The majority of the children were fearful of dental because they usually had experienced the trauma of having teeth extracted in a papoose board. Now that I have been stationed in the Emmonak sub-region for over a year, children anticipate a fun dental visit. I am proud to provide preventive and basic restorative dental care to rural Alaska.”