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Seven Iowa Dentists Awarded Loan Repayment Awards From FIND Project

Posted on March 6, 2018 in Foundation


Seven Iowa dentists are the latest recipients of up to $100,000 educational loan repayment awards from the Fulfilling Iowa’s Need for Dentists (FIND) project, a collaborative public-private partnership. The unique program engages dentists to establish a dental practice in Iowa communities for a five-year commitment while devoting at least 35 percent of their practice to underserved populations such as Medicaid and elderly. Eighty-nine of Iowa’s 99 counties are designated as high priority areas for the Loan Repayment Program.

“Access to dental care for all Iowans increases with each FIND award,” said Jeff Russell, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Iowa. “Dentists practicing in rural communities improve their patients’ oral health, and they also improve the overall physical and economic health of the communities in which they serve.” 

Initial investments in a dental practice are significant. On average, dentists invest more than $300,000 in new equipment and technology, some building a practice from the ground up including new construction or remodeling an existing facility. Educational debt for most dentists averages more than $240,000.

The FIND project award recipients will each receive a minimum of $80,000 in loan repayment funds in return for a five-year commitment (unless noted below). The award includes the communities served contributing a minimum of $5,000 towards the award. Communities have the option to contribute an additional $20,000 toward loan repayment.

The 2018 FIND award recipients include:

  • Dr. Ryan Hajek, My Pediatric Dentist, Council Bluffs, IA, is a 2012 graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry. There he received his Certificate of Pediatric Dentistry in 2014 and served as chief resident. McClain & Associates assisted Dr. Hajek’s loan repayment award locally.
  • Dr. Steven Leifker, Dubuque Pediatric Dentistry, Dubuque, IA, graduated in 2012 from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics. He received a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry and served as chief resident in 2014. The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque assisted Dr. Leifker’s loan repayment award locally.
  • Dr. Kathryn Handtke, Schroeder Family Dental, Greenfield and Atlantic, IA, graduated in 2017 from The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics and obtained her undergraduate degree from Winona State University. A combination of local organizations assisted with Dr. Handtke’s award.
  • Dr. Alison Shields, Harlan Dental, Harlan, IA, earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2009 from the University of Nebraska Lincoln College of Dentistry. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. A combination of local organizations assisted with Dr. Shield’s award.
  • Dr. Dan Scarrow, Jewell Family Dentistry, Jewell, IA, graduated from The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics in 2015 after earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Coe College. A combination of local organizations assisted with Dr. Scarrow’s award.
  • Dr. Melanie Norton is establishing a practice in Keosauqua, IA, and graduated in 2017 from The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics after earning her Bachelor of Science degree there as well. The city of Keosauqua assisted Dr. Norton’s loan repayment award locally.
  • Dr. Matthew Wettach, Family Dental Health Services, Mount Pleasant, IA, graduated in 2016 from The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Luther College. A combination of local organizations assisted with Dr. Wettach’s award.

FIND project partners include Delta Dental of Iowa, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, Iowa Area Development Group, The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, Iowa Department of Public Health and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, as well as numerous local organizations.

The FIND project recruits dentists to practice in underserved Iowa counties by helping them with their dental education debt. The Loan Repayment Program is a component of Delta Dental of Iowa’s Public Benefit program that invests in projects that support and improve the oral health of Iowans. For more information, visit www.iowafindproject.com.

About Delta Dental of Iowa

Delta Dental of Iowa, a not-for-profit health and wellness company, provides dental and vision benefits to more than one million Iowans. Locally focused and nationally networked, Delta Dental of Iowa invests in oral health and wellness projects through the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and community giving that focus on access to care, prevention, education and research. Since 2002, Delta Dental has invested more than $30 million to improve the oral health and overall health of Iowans.

Delta Dental of Iowa is a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. The Delta Dental member companies provide dental benefits to more than 75 million Americans in more than 139,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more information, visit the website at www.deltadentalia.com.