Columbia University Medical Center

Fifteen Students Graduate From Unique Cumc Dental Assistant Training Program

Minority Students in Free Program Prepared to
Work in Underserved Communities

NEW YORK, March 30, 2007 – Fifteen students graduated this week from a unique Columbia University program that trains Manhattan-area minority students to become dental assistants in their communities. The program is free for all participants.

Research has shown that minorities in urban areas disproportionately suffer from serious oral health issues, and that a lack of minority representation in the dentist’s office is part of the problem. The Dental Assisting Training Program (DATP), a joint venture between the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and the Harlem Hospital Dental Service, was established in 1998 to help bridge this gap and give young minorities a significant opportunity to pursue meaningful dental healthcare careers that will allow them to contribute to their communities. The DATP is the only dental assisting program in New York City accredited by the American Dental Association and only one of three accredited in New York State.

To qualify, applicants must have high school diplomas or equivalency degrees at the time of entry. Once accepted and enrolled in DATP, participants take classes in the basic biological sciences and learn the fundamentals of their chosen profession, receiving all training free of charge. 162 students have successfully completed this rigorous one-year academic program and gone on to work in some of New York City’s most underserved communities since the program began nearly ten years ago.

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and public health professionals at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine , the School of Nursing , the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. www.cumc.columbia.edu