EWU Dental Hygiene Students Educate Native American Youth About Dental Careers

Eastern Washington University students helped out at a summer health career exploration program to give 15 Native American Na’ha’shnee student scholars an insider’s view of the dental hygiene profession.

Brianna Silva, who will graduate with the class of 2023, is among 12 EWU dental hygiene students who worked with high school students during the WSU-organized career exploration program.

Students from EWU Dental Hygiene and University of Washington Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) worked cooperatively to provide Native American scholars, in grades 9-12, with a chance to learn more about education and career opportunities in these fields.

The July 20-visit was sponsored by the Na’ha’shnee STEAM Health Institute through WSU Spokane Native American Health Sciences on the Spokane campus. 

The EWU/UW team taught the visiting students about composite fillings, sutures, alginate impressions, and the ultrasonic and hand scaling of teeth. In addition, the scholars participated in a virtual panel consisting of Native American and Native Alaskan dental personnel, including dental therapists.

The Na’ha’shnee STEAM Health Institute aims to connect Native American students with information about research and learning opportunities in health sciences and science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) that can lead to careers in those fields.

The visit was a good fit with the RIDE program, a collaboration with the University of Washington and EWU. The main goal of RIDE is to increase the number of DDS graduates from UW who will choose to practice in rural and underserved communities in Washington state. 

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