The College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in partnership with Saint Thomas Health and the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center have launched a new dental residency program in Nashville.
A ribbon-cutting was held in Nashville Thursday for the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program, which offers training opportunities for dental residents, as well as improved access to dental care for the underserved in the city.
“We are very excited about this program,” said James C. Ragain, Jr., DDS, MS, PhD, FICD, FACD, dean of the UTHSC College of Dentistry. He said the partners come together with the same goal for the 1-year clinical residency program. “We want the program to be a model of AEGD programs in the country and be a competitive program for people to get into.” The university is developing the curriculum for the postgraduate training, which will be open to applicants from across the country.
Saint Thomas Health and UTHSC already partner in medical residencies in Nashville. This is the first dental residency through this graduate education partnership.
The AEGD program is based in the dental clinic at the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC), which has served the Nashville community for 50 years. Initially, it will have four residents and later increase to 10.
MWCHC’s dental clinic is being renovated and expanded to house the program. Major financial support for the renovations has been provided by Saint Thomas West through its Community Benefit program. Additional funds were contributed by the Saint Thomas Health Foundation. The renovation is scheduled for completion this month.
The program aligns with the university’s mission of community outreach, according to Dr. Ragain. “It’s a great opportunity to give service to that community,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for our college to reach out across the state of Tennessee.”
Katina Beard, CEO of MWCHC, said she believes the program will increase the number of dentists who choose to become providers in urban and rural communities with limited health care resources. “I also hope we will be able to mentor others in developing such rich private/public collaborations,” she said.
“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,” Dr. Greg James, MD, chief clinical officer, Saint Thomas Health, said prior to the launch. “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.”