New federal bill would guide rural students into health care

ADA leaders believe bill could strengthen dental workforce

The American Dental Association thanked Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., for sponsoring the Rural Health Workforce Pathway Act bill, which the ADA believes will help alleviate the dental workforce shortage.

The bill encourages students in rural communities to become health care professionals, hopefully contributing to the dental workforce in the future.

“The bill directs the Health Resources and Services Administration to award grants to consortiums of community organizations that would work to establish, improve, or expand health career exploration programs for rural elementary and secondary school students,” wrote ADA President George R. Shepley, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., in a June 23 letter.

These students would receive age-appropriate career guidance, academic counseling and mentoring, as well as assistance in enrolling in training programs.

“Students who are exposed to the health care professions from an early age are more likely to choose a health care career, and the guidance and mentoring they would receive under the Rural Health Workforce Pathway Act would help ensure that they succeed,” Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia wrote. “Also, because these students have a higher likelihood of staying and practicing in the community they grew up in or a similar rural area, your legislation will help to alleviate geographical disparities and ensure access to care for rural patients.”

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