On Feb. 1, Mesa’s A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) hosted the third annual American Indian Pre-Dental Admission Workshop (PAW). The purpose of PAW is to help American Indian college students who are preparing to apply to dental school navigate the application process and expand their professional networks. This year, 12 college students from across the country attended the free workshop.
According to the Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID), American Indian communities struggle with limited access to oral health care. In fact, SAID estimates there are fewer than 300 American Indian dentists serving a population of 5.2 million. Many of the students who participate in PAW plan to practice in the communities where they grew up, increasing access to quality dental care in rural American Indian communities.
In addition to preparing for the application process, PAW participants get hands-on experience in the dental simulation lab, one-on-one time with current dental students, and a tour of the dental school. ATSU-ASDOH provides the aspiring dentists with professional headshots.
“We want students early in the process to understand what it is to become a dentist,” said Sarah Hill, a third-year student at ATSU-ASDOH who played a major role in planning the workshop.