In the last five years, Washington state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of general dental practice residency (GPR) and community health center-based programs. Washington's residency programs vary in size, location, and specialty; ranging from hospital-based programs in Seattle to community health center-based programs in rural small towns like Toppenish and Walla Walla. What all of the residency programs have in common is that they all expand the dental safety net with dentists who can perform the full scope of procedures as a dentist.
Residency programs typically last one year (from the beginning of July to the end of June) and are filled by recent dental school graduates. Two of Washington's first residency programs are the Northwest Dental Residency led by Dr. Mark Koday and the Dental Residency Program at Swedish Medical Center led by Drs. Bart Johnson and Amy Winston. The University of Washington School of Dentistry also hosts GPR residencies every year.
Currently, Washington has 32 GPR/community health center based dental residency positions. The number of residency positions is going to expand considerably in 2013 with the addition of nine new positions opening in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Yakima counties. A complete chart of current positions and planned growth can be found here.
One of the largest drivers of dental residency growth in Washington has been Lutheran Medical Center. In Washington, Lutheran has partnered with community health centers across the state to host both GPR and pediatric dental residencies. Currently, Neighborcare Health (King County) has five residents, Yakima Valley Farmworkers Clinic has three pediatric residents (Yakima County) and three GPR residents (Spokane and Walla Walla Counties) and Columbia Basin Health Association has two residents (Grant County). Start this summer Community Health Center of Snohomish County will add two residents, Healthpoint (King County) will add one resident, and Community Health Care (Pierce County) will add two residents.
WSDA advocates increasing the number of dental residencies in Washington state. WSDA is currently working on a capital budget proposal to help community health centers in Toppenish, Othello, and Walla Walla expand physical clinic capacity in order to increase the number dental residency positions available in rural Washington. The residency positions are especially important because dental residents often practice close to where they complete their residency, and continue working in community health centers.
For additional information, contact WSDA's Director of Government Affairs, Bracken Killpack, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 800-448-3368.