The California Dental Association Foundation recently awarded Jennifer Stone, DMD, MPH, with its Student Loan Repayment Grant. In exchange for a commitment to provide care for the underserved, Dr. Stone will receive $103,000 over two years toward repayment of her student loans.
A 2020 graduate of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, Stone provides dental care to the underserved at Open Door Community Health Centers in Eureka, where she maintains a Medi-Cal patient caseload of over 80%. While the federally qualified health center provides comprehensive care to low-income individuals of all ages, Stone primarily treats children ages 5-10 in rural communities via the health center’s mobile dental van.
“The need for dental care far surpasses what is available,” Stone said. “Patients are desperate for care but are unable to obtain it due to long wait lists and a lack of transportation. My long-term goal is to utilize my experience and knowledge to expand a fleet of mobile dental vans to reach rural or inner-city communities.”
Since 2002, the Foundation’s Student Loan Repayment Grant has helped 21 dentists to embrace their dream of working in public health while serving the Foundation’s mission to reduce barriers to oral health care. According to the American Dental Education Association, the average educational debt for all indebted dental school graduates in the class of 2021 was $301,583, which can jeopardize a new dentist’s ability to choose their preferred career path.
“With an overwhelming amount of student loan debt, this grant provides me the financial support needed so that I can focus on underserved populations and outreach projects,” said Stone, who believes a shift from treatment of disease to education and prevention is needed. “I plan to pay it forward – use the support given to me to help lift up others. I am so grateful to CDA for helping to achieve my goal of creating a better California.”
For more information, visit cdafoundation.org.