American Indian Dentist Recruitment Program Wins $50,000 Grant

Dentistry Today
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Cristin Haase, DMD, MPH, is one of five recipients of Dreamstarter Gold grants from Running Strong for American Indian Youth. She will use the $50,000 award to fund expansion of her original Dreamstarter project, which received a $10,000 grant in 2015.

Haase’s project, the Pre-Admissions Dental Workshop (PAW), aims to increase the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native dentists. It has been an annual event since its 2015 launch. This year, it was held virtually.

“Our people are extremely underrepresented in health professions and specifically my profession of dentistry,” said Haase. “We’ve been able to bring students to campus and identify barriers within the application process.”

The workshop provides prospective students with greater insight into dentistry and guidance to prepare them for the rigorous dental school application process. Haase’s “gold” dream is to expand the pre-admission workshop from dentistry at AT Still University (ATSU) to other programs offered at the school.

“We’ve had a few really great success stories, and we hope we can expand past dentistry and do a larger workshop for all health professions AT Still University offers,” said Haase, a 2017 DMD and MPH graduate of the ATSU-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health.

“Those include physician assistant, doctor of physical therapy, athletic training, and doctor of osteopathic medicine,” she continued. “Overall, the dream would be to see equal representation within fields of each of those health professions.”

Running Strong for American Indian Youth partners with American Indian communities all over the country to create healthier, happier, and more hopeful futures. Its Dreamstarter program helps American Indian youth believe in the power of their dreams to build strong futures for themselves and their communities, according to the group.

“The elders have the vision, but it is the youth that have the dreams,” said Billy Mills, cofounder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth. “These five (grant recipients) represent the next generation of American Indian leaders. I believe in them, in their dreams, and in the future they are building for all of us.”

A total of $850,000 in Dreamstarter grants have been awarded over the past six years. Dreamstarter Gold was developed to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Mills’ gold medal win at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

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