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Saint Thomas Health, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, and UTHSC Launch Dental Residency Program

Saint Thomas Health, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, and UTHSC are launching a new dental residency program together.

Saint Thomas Health, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are pleased to announce a partnership to launch a new Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) residency program. The program launches this month with the goals of providing greater access to dental care for Nashville communities and providing advanced training opportunities for future dental providers.

“We are excited about this partnership, and feel it will benefit the overall Nashville community through expanded access to care and provide additional training for future dentists and specialists,” said Dr. Greg James, M.D., Chief Clinical Officer. “This partnership is an extension of the Saint Thomas Health mission to serve the unique needs of all persons, with special attention to those most vulnerable.”

The AEGD program will be based at Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), including four residents with plans to expand to ten residents in the coming year. The clinic will continue to be owned and operated by MWCHC, which has been serving the Nashville community for 50 years.

To accommodate the residency program, MWCHC’s dental clinic is being renovated and expanded, doubling the size of the existing dental practice. Major financial support for the renovations is provided by Saint Thomas West through its Community Benefit program, the health system’s commitment to charity care and health-related community needs. Additional funds were contributed by the Saint Thomas Health Foundation. The renovation is scheduled to be complete in mid-August.

Katina Beard, CEO of MWCHC, said: “We are very excited about this unique partnership with Saint Thomas/Ascension and the University of Tennessee. As a short-term, immediate action this type of partnership is designed to increase access for uninsured adults. However, I believe a long-term effect of this partnership will be the number of dentists that will choose to become a provider in our low-resourced urban and rural communities. I also hope we will be able to mentor others in developing such rich private/public collaborations.”

The partnership between Saint Thomas Health and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is a longstanding partnership with five medical residencies in Nashville. The AEGD residency program will be the first dental residency as an extension of the graduate education partnership. The advanced training offered through the program will focus on understanding and addressing the community’s oral healthcare needs and sustaining and improving the health of individuals and communities.

“The partnership is great in a lot of ways,” said Dr. Timothy Hottel, DDS, MS, MBA, DBA, director of Statewide Oral Health Initiatives at UT Health Science Center. “It allows us to reach out in the Nashville area and have a real impact on individuals, who otherwise wouldn’t have care.”

Dr. Hottel said the new clinic also advances the mission of the UTHSC College of Dentistry. “Our goal is to train dentists and specialists, but the other goal is to help mankind, and through the Saint Thomas outreach, we can actually do both.”