MOREHEAD — The Appalachian Regional Commission has announced approval of a $400,000 grant to Morehead State University (MSU) for initiation of the Appalachian Rural Dental Education Partnership Program (ARDEP).
This partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry will increase awareness and support for dental careers among K-12 students in Eastern Kentucky, establish a new undergraduate pre-dental curriculum at MSU with links to the UK dental school, and improve oral health conditions at MSU and in the surrounding region. This strategic effort will ultimately improve access to dental professionals in underserved areas such as Appalachian Kentucky’s distressed counties.
“Dental health is very important to overall health, and we know that many people are struggling to afford dental treatment, so the program will undoubtedly improve access to dental care,” said Wayne D. Andrews, MSU president. “A lot of hard work went into obtaining this grant, and we are extremely proud to be able to offer this program.”
“MSU would like to thank U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, Gov. Steve Beshear and the Department for Local Government for their efforts and support on behalf of the University and this grant.”
MSU received ARC funding in 2011 and 2012 to plan a substantial regional partnership that will address the many barriers to oral health in eastern Kentucky. Preliminary work has been done to assess the region’s oral health needs, service delivery problems, and workforce development challenges, all in light of the changing health care landscape. MSU and UK are now moving ahead with priority activities including three major components this year: the early dental pipeline, campus dental pipeline, and campus/regional oral health literacy efforts.
The early dental pipeline will include career development activities targeting K-12 students, teachers, counselors, and parents in northeastern and eastern Kentucky. Career events and social media will be deployed by MSU and UK, targeting students in 8-10 middle and high schools. One elementary school will be selected for a 4th grade health profession program to test a model for future expansion to other primary schools. The campus dental pipeline will start a rural pre-dental curriculum for the MSU campus to include oral health and dental career courses followed by twelve hours of senior-level dual credit courses for students who are accepted into the UK DMD program. Campus/regional oral health literacy programs will include activities on the MSU campus and in the region to improve oral health knowledge and oral health conditions. Finally, this project will strengthen UK’s statewide Kentucky Oral Health Network (KOHN), which includes practitioner networks in each ARC sub-region. KOHN hubs will host practicing dentists who will provide treatment in a training setting; KOHN providers will also be highly engaged in pipeline and oral health literacy activities.
In addition to the ARC funds, matching resources will include $47,201 from MSU and $67,326 from UK, bringing the total project funding to $514,437.
Additional information is available by contacting Dr. Gerald DeMoss, MSU’s academic affairs liaison, at 606-783-2158.