Grant launches rural dental training program | MUSC

CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 18, 2022) –The James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) will launch a two-year rural dentistry fellowship with a grant from the BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation.

Four dentists will be selected to receive two years of advanced postgraduate training through the Safety Net Dentistry fellowship program. Safety net dental clinics provide free or low-cost dental services to those who need it. Fellows will be placed in the Pee Dee, Lowcountry, Midlands and Upstate regions of South Carolina by Sept. 1. Fellows will rotate through federally qualified health centers and rural hospitals in their respective regions. Fellows will also work collaboratively with MUSC Health primary care providers. 

The main goal of the program is to create a pipeline of dentists committed to providing oral health services to rural and underserved communities in South Carolina. The Foundation’s investment in the program has inspired additional funding, including a grant from the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare (CRPH) that will help to support training.

“We believe that this investment from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation will serve as a catalyst to further grow resources and partnerships aimed at reducing disparities throughout the state,” said Dr. Amy Martin, director of the Division of Population Oral Health in the College of Dental Medicine, who will run the new fellowship program. “We are grateful to the Foundation for its partnership on this program and its investment in a dental workforce that is increasingly diverse and equipped to meet the needs of underserved populations across South Carolina,” she said.

Erika Kirby, executive director of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation, recognizes the importance of the rural training program to the state. She said, “The Foundation is proud to support the establishment of this rural dentistry fellowship through MUSC, setting up an innovative pipeline to address the shortage of dentists working in rural and safety net settings and increase access to dental care across South Carolina.”

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

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About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in research funds in fiscal year 2021, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.

As the health care system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care while educating and training generations of outstanding health care providers and leaders to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development; more than 350 telehealth sites, with connectivity to patients’ homes; and nearly 750 care locations situated in all regions of South Carolina. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets totaling $4.4 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students, affiliates and care team members who deliver and support groundbreaking education, research, and patient care.