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IHS Alternative Workforce Initiative

IHS photo from dental clinic

This initiative was designed to elevate the issue of improving dental workforce efficiency within the Indian Health Service (IHS), especially at IHS, Tribal, and Urban (ITU) dental programs throughout the country. The IHS Dental Workforce Initiative aimed to educate ITU providers, tribal communities, and outside organizations about alternative workforce models and promote such models to help address oral disease disparities in the American Indian and Alaska Native population. The initiative highlighted the Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) Program that was created by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2004 as well as the expanded function dental assistant (EFDA) program that the IHS spearheaded in 1961, allowing specially trained dental assistants to restore teeth under the direct supervision of a dentist.