Jessica Rickert DDS in Native Health. Discussion »
LAC DU FLAMBEAU INDIAN RESERVATION A little girl cries herself to sleep every night. She winces in pain at mealtimes. She has a developing abscess in a baby tooth, and nobody can help her. Imagine this four year old is your child, niece, neighbor, or granddaughter. You call for an appoint¬ment, but the nearest help is 100 miles away, the earliest appointment is 3 months hence. And, there are no paved roads. What would you do?
This is not a distant Third World dilemma; it happens far too often right here in Indian country.
I strongly feel that an ideal solution to the shortage of dental care in Indian country is to increase the number of American Indian dental professionals from federally recognized tribes. There are only 155 American Indian dentists in the entire USA! A dental career is not even a remote consideration for most American Indian youngsters, because they have never even seen an American Indian dentist!
There are many obstacles in the way of our American Indian Alaska Native students: Resources; Manpower; Dental Education; Communication; & Organization. Thankfully, some tribes have contributed generously, notably the Lac du Flambeau Tribe who has announced the formation of the accredited Tribal-Technical College Dental Hygiene program.
This premiere collaboration is the first of its kind partnership between an Indian Tribe and a technical college in the nation. The Nicolet College Peter Christensen Dental Campus recently received its initial accreditation approval from the national Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Congratulations to them for completing this arduous process. This past spring, five of the 10 students that enrolled in the dental assisting program were Native American. For the fall session, the program currently has 11 individuals enrolled in the program and five in the dental hygiene program. For more information about Nicolet's dental education programs, visit Nicolet College, or call the college at 715.365.4451 or 800.544.3039 extension 4451.
Dr. Jessica A. Rickert, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, is the first American Indian female dentist. A graduate of the University of University, she was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2009.
posted September 10, 2013 7:40 am edt