DDSD Foundation Grants Support Growing Demand for Dental Assistants

What if there weren’t enough staff in the dentist’s office to care for patients? 

It’s a thought that has probably not occurred to most people, but since we’re dedicated to oral health, it’s the kind of thing we think about a lot.

Dental professional shortages are a reality, especially in rural areas, making it hard for people to get the dental care they need as the demand for oral health professionals continues to grow.

The South Dakota Department of Health’s 2017 Healthcare Workforce Report noted that Dental Assistant is one of the fastest growing professions in healthcare in the state. The projected growth of Dental Assistant job openings from 2014-2024 is the 4th largest, behind Registered Nurses, Nursing Assistants, and Home Health Aides.

That’s why the Delta Dental of South Dakota Foundation is working to support the creation of new opportunities and enhanced training for people seeking an oral health career in Dental Assisting.

The Foundation recently awarded a $50,000 grant to help start a new Dental Assistant program at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, expected to begin in the fall of 2019. Southeast Tech is planning to accept up to 24 students in the 1-year program. Graduates will be prepared to meet state requirements to become a Registered Dental Assistant.

Another grant of $49,725 will support the purchase of new equipment to enhance training opportunities for Dental Assisting students in the existing program at Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City.  The money will be used to add specialized manikins for lab practice. Additional training supplies will be purchased for use in community rotations where students gain practical experience providing oral care and education for local seniors and children who are without a dental home.

The grants, along with the DDSD Foundation’s longstanding support of the Dental Assisting program at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown are part of our continuous effort to sustain a robust, well-trained dental workforce to care for your oral health.

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