Bulletin of Dental Education

Residency Program Focuses on Underserved Rural Patients

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In 2005, the Northwest Dental Residency Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program (NDR Program) was developed under the parent ownership of Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. Mark Koday, D.D.S., former Program Director, and Cynthia Ausink, current Dental Residency Supervisor, worked to finalize the program and enrolled the program’s first class of dental residents in July 2006. Seeing the direction that dentistry as a profession was headed, Dr. Koday focused the program’s continued operations and development on meeting the needs of underserved, underprivileged and rural communities where dental care could be severely limited. The NDR Program provides dental school graduates and general dentists an opportunity to acquire advanced skills and practice for the aforementioned patient base in rural communities.

Dr. Koday retired in June 2022, and in his place, Michael Yurth, D.D.S., a graduate of the NDR Program, was named NDR Program Director. For over 17 years, the NDR Program has been a staple in communities in the state of Washington, including locations in Central Washington, North Central Washington, the Lower Yakima Valley, the Spokane region of Washington and, for a brief time, in Western Washington and the Puget Sound area.  

When the NDR Program enrolled its first class of residents in July 2006, the question asked among dental professionals and academics was, “Why does a new graduate choose between going directly from dental school into practice versus taking another year to explore a residency or specialty?”

That question remains as it becomes more evident that something more is needed, no matter how robust the dental education. Technological advancements contribute to a significant need for advanced training and education and the acquisition of advanced skills.

The NDR Program was designed to address the challenges practicing dentists face by providing advanced training, using cutting-edge technologies and breaking down barriers to advanced dental services in rural communities and the patients in need.

Currently, the NDR Program receives applications from students and practicing dentists throughout the United States and Canada. Since its inception, the program has enrolled anywhere from four to 12 residents each 12-month academic residency year. The NDR Program is a decentralized residency program, meaning each resident is placed in a different home clinic for the duration of their academic residency year. The clinical and didactic curriculum is the same for each resident. The only variant is the home clinic’s geographical location, which can present challenges particular to the venue, but with focused attention on the clinical and didactic training provided these challenges are not insurmountable.

The NDR Program is a great contribution to the offerings of Advanced Education in General Dentistry Programs in the United States and will provide any potential enrollee with a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow in their profession.

Courtesy of Dr. Michael Yurth, Northwest Dental Residency Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic

Published on August 10, 2022

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