Going to the dentist can trigger anxiety. Pursuing a career in dentistry can be just as scary: some graduates begin careers with six figures’ worth of debt.
That’s a lot, even for a well-paid specialist in a city. And it’s even more for a newly minted dentist who hopes to practice in a small town.
So, when Val Brown and Dori Drumm learned about the Sprint for OHSU Students initiative—which provides financial resources to reduce barriers to health care careers—they were intrigued. And when they learned students at the OHSU School of Dentistry undergo a training rotation to provide dental care in rural or underserved areas, they were inspired.
Growing up in tiny Oakridge, Oregon, Drumm needed to drive an hour to Eugene, Oregon for dentist appointments. It’s why she is passionate about accessible, high-quality dental care.
“My goals are to take the fear out of dentistry, teach providers good ‘bedside care,’ and educate families that dental care is important,” she said.
Scholarships are key to bringing the best, brightest and most diverse students to OHSU. Brown and Drumm have proudly established the Valentine Brown and Dori L. Drumm Rural Health Scholarship to support two students each year at the OHSU School of Dentistry.
Brown said, “We are hoping to take some of the economic burden off students’ shoulders and aid their work in the community.”
Brown and Drumm thrive on the personal connection their generosity has inspired: scholarship recipients send photos and handwritten thank-you notes, sharing their experiences and the rewards of learning in rural communities.
“We really wanted to go to graduation, but COVID-19 prevented that,” Drumm added.
Brown and Drumm have the long-term goal to support the School of Dentistry as it evolves. This includes innovative teaching options such as tele-dentistry, which brings specialists to remote areas through online video, as well as 3-D printing to make dental implants, dentures and orthodontia.
“The better-educated our dentists are, the better service they’ll provide,” Brown said. “That doesn’t happen by wishing it so. It happens because you influence it in ways available to you. That’s our goal: provide financial support to make a difference.”