April 6, 2012
LITTLE ROCK - The state's medical school is taking steps to establish a dental school at its Little Rock campus.
Foundations have donated large sums to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for its long-range plans to expand teaching at its school of dental hygiene and oral health clinics. It will take several years but eventually the goal is for Arkansas to have its own school of dentistry, which should go a long way toward alleviating the shortage of dental services in many parts of the state.
The director of the UAMS Center for Dental Education said it would take at least five years of preparation to establish a dentistry program.
Arkansas is one of 14 states without its own dental program. Arkansas college students who wish to study dentistry must attend programs in other states. The majority go to Tennessee.
The availability of dental services is best in suburban areas and worst in areas of poverty. The director of the Center for Dental Education said that there is a demand within the state for a dental program. An Arkansas school of dentistry likely will spread out the distribution of dentists throughout the state. Now, most dentists are clustered in the state's eight most populous counties and five rural counties in Arkansas have no dentist at all, he said.
UAMS plans to open a dental clinic at its Little Rock campus later this year, where patients can get dental services and faculty can teach students about dentistry and oral health.
There is a dental hygiene program at the UAMS College of Health Related Professions in Little Rock, and since 2009 the Department of Dental Hygiene also has offered classes at the campus of Arkansas State University at Mountain Home.
Students at Mountain Home learn from faculty in Little Rock using interactive video. They get clinical instruction and lab classes from faculty in Mountain Home.
On average, the Little Rock campus enrolls 34 students a year and the Mountain Home campus five students a year.
Arkansas has about 1,300 dentists and about 32 newly licensed dentists start practicing in the state each year. Many are in the Baby Boom generation and are expected to retire in the next few years, so a school of dentistry at UAMS would help alleviate an expected shortage of dentists.
UAMS has a College of Pharmacy, a College of Nursing, a College of Public Health and a Graduate School. In addition to dental hygiene, its College of Health Related Professions has numerous programs in fields such as cytotechnology, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine imaging, surgical technology and respiratory care. Five years ago UAMS opened a regional campus in Fayetteville called UAMS Northwest.
Century Farm Program
The Arkansas Agriculture Department wants to recognize families who have farmed the same land for 100 years or more, as of December 31, 2012. Their property may have passed down in the family through children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces, marriage or adoption. The farming operation must be at least 10 acres of the original land acquisition.
There is no cost to apply. Qualified applicants will receive a metal sign and a certificate. You may call 501-225-1598 for information or get on the department's web site at www.aad.arkansas.gov
and click on Century Farm Program on the left side of the front page.