Students to Service program brings dentists to underserved areas - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Students to Service program brings dentists to underserved areas

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Ladysmith (WQOW) - More than 300 Wisconsin cities need dentists. The Students to Service Loan Repayment Program is looking to change that.

"There's a lot of people in need but not so many providers in the area to provide care," said Dr. James Younan, dentist at the Family Health Centers of Marshfield Clinic at the Ladysmith Dental Center.

Offered by the National Health Service Corps, the Students to Service Loan Repayment Program offers student incentives to serve in what it deems Health Professional Shortage Areas, meaning there aren't enough health care providers to keep up with the community. Students in the program serve three years in these areas, and in return, student loans are paid off.

"It makes it so much more easier for us, the passionate healthcare providers who want to make a difference, to connect with our patients and know exactly where it is that these patients are in need across the nation," Younan said.

Shortage areas are ranked on a scale one to 26. Ladysmith, Wisconsin is on the list. 

"It was a little bit of a transition, a little bit of a shock for me to see that, you know this person hasn't had a dentist in so long for whatever reason, or they traveled hours to get here," said Dr. Kia Moore, program participant and dentist at the Ladysmith Dental Center.

Care is hard to come by in many of these cities, but so is education about proper oral health.

"Just the common basic things that you think people know, they don't, and that isn't anyone's fault, I think that just not being able to go to the dentist as a kid and not knowing these different things you just don't learn the," Moore said.

"Most patients don't know what's going on in their mouths so we take the extra effort to educate, inform and let them know what's going on in their mouths so they can expect something if it's going to happen," Younan said.

"I'm glad that we're here and I can see that we're truly helping and making a difference. That makes it all worth it," Moore said.

The Students to Service program is open to both medical and dental students. The deadline to apply is October 19. The NHSC website has more information on how to apply.

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