Amid tears, hugs, flowers and the congratulations of friends family, staff and instructors, four young ladies “crossed the finish line” after two years of dental health aide therapist (DHAT) training. A ceremony was held at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium headquarters in Anchorage Dec. 9.
Bethel’s Dr. Bob Allen gave the keynote address, comparing their training to an auto race-complete with warning flags, pit stops, and, of course, the checkered “victory” flag. But the finish line is also the starting line and as one endeavor ends, the next begins.
Training included a year of classroom study in Anchorage and a year of practical study in Bethel at Yuut Elitnaurviat.
These new DHATS- Jana Schuerch, Kiana (Maniilaq); Shannon Hardy, Ft. Yukon (Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments); Trisha Patton, Napakiak (YKHC); and Kate Kohl, Bethel (YKHC)-will now be going to different communities in rural Alaska to provide much needed dental care to underserved populations. DHATS work under the supervision of Dentists in a relatively new program that is being watched closely as a model for rural dental care outside of Alaska.