Loan Repayment for Service Program (DMD) brings dentists to ten rural Minnesota communities
Delta Dental of Minnesota

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May 15th, 2019

Loan Repayment for Service Program (DMD) brings dentists to ten rural Minnesota communities

MINNEAPOLIS — Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation has selected University of Minnesota School of Dentistry graduates Lucy Corrin, D.D.S. and Kristal Wilmes, D.D.S. as the final recipients of the Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists Loan Repayment for Service program, which brings dentists to underserved rural Minnesota communities. Dr. Corrin is practicing in the City of Bigfork in Itasca County, while Dr. Wilmes is practicing in the City of Tyler in Lincoln County. The Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists program, now with ten recipients practicing across the state, aims to improve access to care for underserved communities in rural Minnesota by reducing student loan debt in exchange for the dentist’s service that geographic area. The average student loan debt of graduating dentists exceeds $250,000, which is a barrier to new dentists practicing in Greater Minnesota.

The Foundation collaborates with the Minnesota Dental Foundation, an arm of the Minnesota Dental Association, to promote the program and select participants. Eight of the ten recipients are graduates of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Beginning in 2014, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation allocated $2 million to fund up to ten program participants. Each participant is eligible for up to $200,000 in loan repayment in exchange for at least five years of service to their community and are committed to serve public program patients as part of their practice. Other recipients are practicing dentistry in the cities of Benson, Cook, Deerwood, Ely, International Falls, Mora, Walker, and Warroad. “Good oral health is connected to good overall health which is why it is critical for dentists to be easily accessible in all regions. We are proud to help new dentists begin their careers by serving patients in underserved communities,” said Joe Lally, Executive Director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. “The Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists program will have a lasting impact on the lives of these dentists and their communities for years to come.”

Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists is one example of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation’s work to address the gaps in access to oral health care throughout the state. Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, more than half are considered dental health professional shortage areas by the federal government. The Foundation has also invested in recruitment incentives for dentists, provided scholarships for dental therapists and other dental health professionals, and supported nonprofit organizations that provide care in Greater Minnesota.

Dr. Kristal Wilmes opened her own dental practice in Tyler. “I am so grateful for the support I have received from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. This program allowed me to return to the area where I was raised to open a new clinic serving people in southwestern Minnesota,” said Dr. Wilmes. “Without the loan repayment for service program, I likely wouldn’t have been able to open my own dental clinic.” Dr. Lucy Corrin, will serve patients at Scenic Rivers Health Services in Bigfork. “Now that I am burdened less by student loans, I’m able to focus on practicing dentistry in the region that I grew up in. The generosity of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation allows me to give back to my community by providing high-quality dental care at a clinic that accepts all insurance forms and offers a sliding fee scale,” Dr. Corrin said.

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Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation is founded on the belief that everyone deserves a healthy smile. In 2009, Delta Dental of Minnesota’s parent organization sold a company and used 100 percent of the proceeds to establish and fund the Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to improve the wellbeing of Minnesotans through oral health. To date, the foundation has invested more than $35 million to expand prevention and care, reaching more than 1 million people to promote healthy smiles statewide.