Introduction

The Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) Educational Program accepted its first class in January 2007.  Five classes of DHAT students have graduated from the program and two are currently in training.  The training sites for the DHAT Educational Program are located in Anchorage and Bethel, Alaska.

Instructors

Instructors for the DHAT Educational Program have been recruited from throughout the country.  Currently, two-full time instructors and 14 part-time instructors work to meet the educational needs of our DHAT students.  Some instructors come from the University of Washington, Baylor University, University of Florida, and the University of Alaska Anchorage.  Seven have long histories of providing clinical dental care to Alaska Natives. Many of these instructors have been with the Educational Program since its beginning.

Year 1 Curriculum

Students arrive in Anchorage, AK for their first year of education.  The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) works in partnership with the University of Washington MEDEX program to administer the first year of the DHAT Educational Program.  Students are enrolled at the University of Washington and receive credits for the coursework they complete.  At the end of the first year students receive certificates of completion.

Quarter 1

  • Primary Dental Health Aide
  • Infection Control
  • General Health Science
  • Radiology
  • Dental Assisting
  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Behavior Management

Quarter 2

  • Basic Restorative Function
  • Embryology
  • Head and Neck Anatomy
  • Oral Pathology
  • Local Anesthesia
  • Operative Dentistry

Quarter 3

  • Diagnosis and Treatment Planning I
  • Stainless Steel Crowns
  • Cariology
  • Atraumatic Restorative Treatment
  • Restorative Dentistry

Quarter 4

  • Diagnosis and Treatment Planning II
  • Program Management
  • Dental Hygiene Treatment and Prevention
  • Pharmacology
  • Prevention and Management of Medical Emergencies
  • Ethics and Law

Year 2 Curriculum

Following the completion of Year 1, DHAT students begin a twelve-month clinical year at the Yuut Elitnaurviat Dental Training Clinic in Bethel, AK.  Students continue to receive didactic training, but attention is focused primarily on clinical implementation of didactic material.  Students gain clinical experience in the DHAT scope of practice and engage in a year-long community outreach program.  During the second year students also participate in an operating room observation rotation, emergency rotations and village-travel.  During graduation week students present their community project and a case presentation to the first year DHAT students, clinical instructors and invited guests.

The University of Washington continues to support the DHAT Educational Program in the second year through curriculum development and site visits.  Site visits aid in monitoring the progress of the students and the calibration of clinical instructors in addition to providing overall program feedback.

Quarter 1

  • Dental Assisting Review
  • Local Anesthesia
  • Dental Materials
  • Photography
  • Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
  • Disease Model of Caries
  • Dental Caries Management
  • Response to Dental Pain and Infection
  • Ultrasonic Prophylaxis and Handscaling
  • Dental Extractions

Quarter 2

  • Dental Anatomy
  • Epidemiology
  • Behavior Management
  • Complex Amalgam and Composite Restorations
  • Oral Pathology
  • Professionalism

Quarter 3

  • Patients with Special Needs
  • Treating Traumatic Dental Injuries
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Literature Review
  • Oral Surgery

Quarter 4

  • Community Prevention
  • End of Year Case Presentation

 

Savannah Bonorden

From Sitka,AK

Employed by Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium

“Alaska is a big state and access can be difficult especially with the conditions of weather or with the expensive of travel. So having a DHAT placed in a village setting is both rewarding and beneficial for the people. I see the dental therapists as a new mainstream for dental prevention, working together as a team with all occupations of the dental field. We’re a new kind of provider, a profession that has so much promise to the future of oral health. I see all the smiles and gratitude the patients have for the services we provide and I’m proud to be here helping. It warms my heart and gives me the sense that I’m doing something right.”