Rural Nebraska Outreach


Providing Rural Nebraska's Dental Workforce

Providing Rural Nebraska's Dental Hygiene Workforce

The Western Division Dental Hygiene Program was developed in 2003 to recruit, educate and retain dental hygienists in rural Nebraska. More than 80% of recent graduates have remained in rural communities to start their careers. The program also provides rural Nebraskans increased access to dental care as students provide care at the Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska.

Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) & Kearney Health Opportunities Program (KHOP)

For many years, the college has participated in pipeline programs that are designed to recruit students from rural Nebraska who are committed to returning to rural Nebraska to practice dentistry. Students receive full tuition scholarships at their undergraduate schools and, upon satisfactory completion of their four-year undergraduate program, they gain acceptance into the UNMC College of Dentistry. Learn more.

State of Nebraska Rural Oral Health Contract

In 2016, the college was awarded a $4 million, 10-year contract from the State of Nebraska Oral Health Training and Services Fund to help increase the number of dental graduates practicing in rural Nebraska, to increase oral health services for citizens across the state, and to expand the use of telehealth to deliver dental services.

Educating Students about Rural Dental Health

College of Dentistry students are afforded countless opportunities to learn about rural dental health through the school’s curriculum, including extramural experiences and outreach programs. All fourth-year dental students spend several weeks on extramural rotations treating patients alongside volunteer faculty in counties across Nebraska.

Rural Nebraska Community Outreach Programs

Sealant Program - Students and faculty provide free preventative dental care services, including dental sealants and fluoride varnish, to underserved children in Nebraska. Since 2002, over 26,000 children have received preventative services. Learn more.

Western Nebraska Children's Dental Day - Each year, about 200 underserved children in western Nebraska receive free dental care. The college transports students, faculty, staff and portable equipment to sites in Sidney and Gordon. Learn more.

Western Nebraska SHARING Clinics - An annual extraction clinic is held in conjunction with the Third City Clinic in Grand Island. Since 2008, over 2,500 patients have been treated at Dental SHARING Clinics. Learn more.

UNMC Rural Health 2030 Task Force

Continued efforts to expand our services also include the important work of the UNMC Rural Health 2030 Task Force, which continues the conversation about rural health care education and workforce preparation.

Through both the college’s existing and new efforts, we are optimistic about the future of rural health care and we look forward to creating new partnerships throughout our state to further strengthen rural oral health.