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ADA supports workforce bill

Student loan repayment in exchange for full-time faculty service proposed

Washington—The Association commended sponsors of workforce legislation offered in the U.S. House of Representatives as "a vital first step toward alleviating faculty shortages at dental schools throughout the country."

Offered by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) with dentist/Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) as original cosponsor, H.R. 1930 would newly authorize loan repayment programs for dental faculty. "Your bill will enable programs of general and pediatric dentistry to support student loan repayment (up to $250,000 over five years) in exchange for service as full-time faculty," Association officials said.

"While the demand for dental care in certain areas of the country has been rapidly growing, the supply of expert faculty to train future dentists has been faltering," said ADA President John S. Findley and Executive Director Kathleen O'Loughlin.

Their letter cites "near record numbers" of vacant budgeted faculty positions at dental schools and projects higher numbers as faculty members retire. At the same time, less than 1 percent of graduating dental students are choosing careers in teaching, research or administration.

The Primary Care Dental Academic Workforce Development Act of 2009, referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has six bipartisan cosponsors, Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-N.C.) and Rep. Michael K. Simpson (R-Idaho).