CDA Foundation grant recipient helps underserved

With a mission to improve the oral health of all Californians by supporting the dental profession in its efforts to meet community needs, the CDA Foundation offers its Student Loan Repayment Grant to allow dentists to work in public health. This year, Aisha Amin, DMD, has been selected as the Foundation's 15th Student Loan Repayment Grant recipient.

A 2013 graduate of A.T. Still University, School of Health Management, Amin said she can relate to those in an underserved community and makes it her personal objective to help improve their well-being.

"I choose to work with an underserved faction of society because I can wholeheartedly identify myself with the patient population," said Amin, who now practices at the Family HealthCare Network in Woodlake. "It is my responsibility to see my patients not only improve their dental health but also their overall lifestyle."

The Student Loan Repayment Grant program provides tremendous impact across the state -- lessening the burden of student loan debt so that new dentists like Amin can embrace a dream to work in public health or in an underserved community. This grant provides up to $105,000 over three years toward repayment of student loans in exchange for a commitment to care for underserved individuals.

Amin and her family uprooted from the remote village of Chichawatni, Pakistan, and relocated to rural Ajax, Canada, and by the age of 13, she was not only working 30 hours a week to contribute to the household, she was also helping raise her three younger siblings while taking classes to further develop her English skills. She would later move to Fairfield.

Amin said the obstacles she overcame in an attempt to adapt to her new society now serve as the foundation of her work ethic.

"As a health care provider, I challenge myself to go above and beyond the call of duty to display compassion and provide quality care to patients," said Amin, who offers free tutoring to student patients and encourages them to shadow at the facility to expose them to potential career paths. "This aiding gesture is the least I can do to empower the youth of my community and support their pursuit of happiness."

Having had the opportunity to practice dentistry in private offices as well as hospital-based and corporate structures, Amin said she has discovered her true passion lies within a community health center setting, and receiving this grant from the Foundation will allow her to follow that passion.

Amin will be honored at the CDA House of Delegates this week.

Since 2002, the Student Loan Repayment Grant program has placed 14 dentists (Amin is the 15th) into community clinics where they've helped more than 72,000 patients and provided nearly $18 million in care for individuals who experience barriers to care. And, almost all of those dentists have remained not only in public health but in the communities where they first served.

For more information or to donate to the Student Loan Repayment Grant program, visit cdafoundation.org.