Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant To Fund Dental School Recruitment Program; Cleveland Area Experiencing Shortage of Black Dentists
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Monday said it will give a $4 million grant to support an ongoing program that recruits students to practice in underserved communities, United Press International reports.
The dental students and medical residents provide care to low-income patients in 237 community-based clinics located in underserved areas. The program started in 2001 with a $19 million grant from the foundation.
According to the foundation, the program has contributed to increased minority enrollment in dentistry programs at Howard University and Boston University (United Press International, 4/30).
Dentist Shortage in Cleveland
In related news, Cleveland area health experts are concerned that a shortage of black dentists in the area will lead to fewer minorities seeking dental care, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Within city limits, blacks make up 51% of Cleveland's population, while less than 2% of dentists in the area are black, according to the Plain Dealer.
A 2006 CDC study found that minorities of all age groups receive dental care less often the whites. According to the study, 34% of blacks ages 65 and older had seen a dentist within the last year, compared with 59% of whites.
Francis Curd, a black dentist and professor at the University of Las Vegas who has studied race and dentistry, said 57% of current black dentists are older than age 50 and many are retiring. The situation is not likely to improve, as blacks make up less than 5% of dental school students nationwide, the Plain Dealer reports. American Indian and Hispanics are even less likely than blacks to enroll in dental school, according to the Plain Dealer.
To address the issue, the Cleveland Clinic is developing a program called Saturday Academy, which aims to increase minority children's awareness of health professions (Lewis, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/29).