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New Mexico State University

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Delta Dental of New Mexico to fund Pre-Dental Study Group at NMSU

In an effort to help address the shortage of dentists in the southern part of New Mexico, Delta Dental of New Mexico will fund a Pre-Dental Study Group at New Mexico State University.

0,500 grant will assist NMSU in identifying undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing a career in dentistry.

"It is critical to keep the dental school pipeline full of New Mexicans who want to attend dental school and return home to practice," said Walt Bolic, president of Delta Dental.

The company has a mission to improve oral health for New Mexicans. According to Bolic, supporting the Pre-Dental Study Group in partnership with NMSU is one important step in addressing the shortage of dentists in many parts of the state.

"Not only is there a current shortage," said Jerry O'Connor, pre-health adviser at NMSU, "but one that is likely to grow because of the number of dentists soon to retire. Last spring NMSU was contacted by dentists to find out what we could do to alleviate the shortage."

The Delta Dental grant would provide for the establishment of a cadre of peers who will mentor each other and increase the number of students studying pre-dentistry at NMSU.

It would also fund such things as two $1,000 scholarships for seniors to complete their final year at NMSU, reimbursement for the costs to register online for the Dental Aptitude Test, and funds to travel to recognized dental schools for interviews.

"The Delta Dental award provides financial resources to reach out to potential dental students at NMSU," said John Gustafson, who chairs the Health Professions Advisory and Molecular Biology Recruiting committees. "It gives them real financial help getting accepted into dental schools. It also provides incentives for qualified NMSU students to consider dentistry. This award is unique for the NMSU Pre-Health Professional Students, and we hope that other professional health-related interest groups also provide NMSU with such gifts in the future."

A reception to kick off the program will take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the Dove Hall Conference Room on the NMSU campus. Bolic and members of the board will join NMSU President Michael Martin, Waded Cruzado-Salas, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and faculty and students involved in the pre-dental program at the reception.

Delta Dental of New Mexico insures or administers dental benefit plans for more than 390,000 New Mexicans and has a dentist network that includes more than 700 provider points of access around the state. Delta Dental is governed by a board of directors consisting of New Mexico residents and is part of Delta Dental Plans Association. The Association is a network of 39 independent, not-for-profit dental plans that conduct business in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, making it the nation's largest, most experienced dental benefits carrier serving more than 46,000,000 individuals.