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UAMS working to bring more dentists to Arkansas

There could be a shortage of dentists in Arkansas if more don't return from their out of state education. The state of Arkansas does not have a college of dentistry, so students wanting to go into the field of dentistry have to leave the state for their education. The closest college of dentistry is in Memphis. One program at UAMS brings those out of state students to Arkansas to practice.{} Grants totaling more than $1 million dollars to programs at UAMS were announced Monday, including $150,000 to the department of dental education to continue bringing out of state students in for two-week periods to practice. {} "These senior students are preparing to enter the profession of dentistry and we provide them experience for their enrichment that makes them better practitioners. Hopefully many of them will settle with us in Arkansas here," said William Slagel, DDS, the director for dental education at UAMS. Slagel says they hope to avoid an impending crisis of a shortage of dentists in the state. "With most of us in dentistry or a lot of us becoming senior citizens, why that could be a crisis not far down the road that we need younger people to take our places in the state of Arkansas," Slagel said. Alex Sharp, a dental student in Memphis, is from Cabot. He says he wants to come back to practice in his home state. "There's still several counties in Arkansas that don't have a dentist, which seems incredible in 2015 that would be the case, but we're working to fix that," Sharp said. Students like Corin Hyter from nearby Missouri also has seen what it's like to practice in Arkansas through the program and says he would be willing to be a dentist in Arkansas. "That's definitely something I'm open to. I'm from very close to Arkansas, from Branson Missouri, it's not too far away, so it's definitely a possibility I'll be practicing in Arkansas at some point. But it's nice to be down here," said Hyter.{}

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