Wednesday, May 29, 2024

UW School of Dentistry RIDE student joins Family Health Centers for Rural Dental Care initiative


Family Health Centers (FHC) announced the addition of Jared Ortiz, a fourth-year DDS candidate, as an extern through the University of Washington School of Dentistry's (UWSOD) Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program for the winter and spring terms. Ortiz's involvement is expected to enhance the clinic's capacity to serve an increased number of dental patients in the region while also contributing to the training of future rural oral health care providers. Fewer dental providers in rural areas lead to reduced access to dental care, a gap that programs like RIDE aim to fill by preparing dentists to serve in communities with the greatest need.

Dr. Frank Roberts, Director of the UW’s RIDE Program, emphasized the importance of expanding oral health care in rural and underserved areas to improve community health. He highlighted the strong link between oral and overall health, underscoring the necessity of regular care from trained professionals. Through a focused DDS curriculum track, the RIDE program aims to address this by training dentists for practice in rural and underserved areas of Washington state. It includes a year of dental school at Eastern Washington University in Spokane and two clinical rotations at Community Health Centers in Central or Eastern Washington. More than 80 percent of RIDE DDS graduates who are in practice have returned to work in rural and underserved communities since the program began in 2009.

Originally from Bothell, WA, Ortiz completed a second-year clinical rotation with FHC in 2021. He returns for a five-month senior dental rotation at FHC's Okanogan, Brewster, and Bridgeport dental clinic locations under the supervision of Dr. Tony Yan, a UWSOD graduate and experienced dental preceptor. Ortiz, who has received the Arcora Foundation Dr. Burton H. Goodman Presidential Scholarship and the Psi Omega Scholarship at UWSOD, is set to graduate in June 2024. Following his graduation, he plans to undertake a General Practice Residency at Colorado University.

FHC has been a vital part of the Okanogan community since 1985, operating four dental sites across the county in Okanogan, Brewster, Bridgeport, and Oroville. The organization strives to improve community health by providing equitable access to quality, affordable care delivered in culturally competent and linguistically appropriate ways.


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