Man receives a dental cleaning from a dental provider wearing a mask

HRSA-Supported Dental Residency Program to Begin at Zufall-Hackettstown in 2024

Zufall Health is proud to be the first and only health center in New Jersey to receive a Teaching Health Center Planning and Development grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), the agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Services that improves access to health care for medically vulnerably populations. The grant will support the development of a new accredited general dental residency program in Zufall’s Hackettstown office.

Zufall’s dental residency program, which is slated to begin July 1, 2024, will enhance the workforce of dentists interested in serving communities who face barriers to dental care access. In 2019, only 65.3 percent of adults in the U.S. ages 18 and above visited a dentist in the previous 12 months, according to the CDC. Dental visits were even lower for people identifying as Hispanic/Latinx (57.6 percent), people identifying as Black/African American (59.5 percent) people living at or below the Federal Poverty Level (47.4 percent), and residents of rural areas (57.1 percent).

The one-year program will enroll three Residents annually. Zufall volunteer faculty and dentists will work with the Residents to provide practical hands-on general dentistry mentorship and offer both classroom and chair-side educational experiences to refine and enhance their clinical skills. Zufall’s rotations will include a focus on special populations (people experiencing homelessness, public housing residents (typically seniors), and migrant and seasonal farmworkers) as well as patients with HIV.

Additionally, Residents will participate in rotations to gain experience in functioning in an integrated environment with a wide range of medical services. Residents will be prepared to deliver dental care in a variety of models, including our dental operatories in fixed site locations and using state of the art technology.

Over the next year, Zufall’s Dental Department will be developing a curriculum and training plan, solidifying administrative processes, updating policy and procedures, and providing faculty training to current staff dentists and volunteers, as well as working to achieve all necessary accreditations.

“Zufall is grateful to HRSA and looks forward to demonstrating leadership and innovative strategies in dental care for rural and under-resourced populations,” said Sam Wakim, DMD, MPH, Zufall’s Chief Dental Officer. “We are honored for this opportunity to train a new generation of dentists who will increase access to oral health care for New Jersey’s most vulnerable communities.”

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