Homegrown DHAT to work in sub-region after preceptorship
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – Norton Sound Health Corporation is celebrating the graduation of its newest Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT), Melinda Gray.
Gray was among the most recent graduating class of the Alaska Dental Therapy Educational Program, a partnership between Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Ilisagvik Tribal College. On June 1, Gray accepted her diploma and took the stage to share a little bit about her journey.
She said she felt blessed to be accepted into the program after interviewing for the seat two years prior. Before studying dentistry, Gray held a career in telecommunications, but she did not feel professionally satisfied. Her husband encouraged her to apply for the program.
In parting, Gray shared some words of wisdom for the students in the audience, who were scheduled to graduate in 2019: “Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Whatever you may do in life, no matter how hard it may be, you will always have support and someone there for you. So don’t give up! Also, get involved in your community, play softball, basketball, or whatever it is you enjoy!”
Gray will be based in Nome for the coming months, working under the direction of local dentists as she completes the preceptorship portion of her training.
Dr. Mark Kelso explained that she will work out of both the Norton Sound Regional Hospital and various villages to hone her dental skills before she is certified.
“DHAT Melinda Gray will add greatly to the provision of dental care in the St. Michael/Stebbins area once she receives her certification,” Kelso said.
Gray is the fifth tribal member from the Bering Strait region to graduate from the intensive two-year training program in order to bring dental health closer to home for regional villages, which will improve the quality of life for many.