CNM Partners with Navajo Nation to Train Community Dental Health Coordinators

February 22, 2017 -- The CNM School of Health, Wellness & Public Safety (HWPS) has partnered with the Navajo Nation to train a second cohort of Community Dental Health Coordinators. The American Dental Association is providing funds to cover tuition, fees and books, as well as paying some administrative costs.
February 22, 2017

Some of these Community Dental Health Coordinator students who are currently working in dental or healthcare fields will drive from their home communities in New Mexico and Arizona to CNM on the weekends for classes. They will learn screening and classification and palliative care skills before entering internships.

After three terms they will earn their Community Dental Health Coordinator Certificate. Then they'll return to their home communities to help promote culturally appropriate oral health wellness and they'll help eliminate many of the cultural, language and sociological barriers that might otherwise impede the effectiveness of coordinators from outside of the region.

“Community Dental Health Coordinators are health care workers who focus on dental care,” said Erin Johnson-Kroft, associate dean of Allied Health and Diagnostic Programs in HWPS. “Once the students obtain their certificates, they can work under a dentist and in partnership with a community clinic, providing oral health education, prevention intervention and low-level dental care.”

They will work in communities, people’s homes, schools and other locations and help establish an emergency triage system and organize an oral health referral system.

During their second term, they will be joined by certified dental assistants and registered dental hygienists who enter the program based on their already existing credentials and years of work experience in the dental field.

The Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation, the American Dental Foundation and the Navajo Nation Community Health Representative Program also provided support and funding for the program. 

CNM offered its first Community Dental Health Coordinator certificate program in fall 2013. CNM is one of a few community colleges nationwide that offers a Community Dental Health Coordinator educational program.