Why develop a RIDE program in Spokane?

The Regional Initiatives in Dental Education program will produce additional dentists to serve patients in rural and underserved areas of the Northwest. As the population of the region has grown, the dentist per capita ratio has declined. Many dentists in the region are older than the national average, and retiring dentists are not all being replaced, especially in rural areas. In Washington State, for example, 50% of dentists are predicted to retire by 2013. In addition, there are federally designated dentist shortage areas throughout the Northwest. Without additional capacity in dental education, these communities will face increasing dentist shortages.

As one of the top-rated dental institutions in the nation in clinical training and scientific research, the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSOD) is taking a leadership role in responding to these issues. The School is the only fully-accredited dental school in the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI).

The RIDE program will increase access to publicly-funded dental education for students from the Northwest by partnering with regional universities and the UW School of Medicine WWAMI program. The RIDE program will also partner with other health professional recruitment efforts to increase the number of dental student applicants from underserved and rural areas within the WWAMI region.

Spokane Riverpoint Campus: One of the first proposed sites for a RIDE program is the Spokane Riverpoint campus, a health sciences center run jointly by Washington State University and Eastern Washington University. In 2003-4, a group of Spokane community leaders representing business, higher education, health care, biomedical research, and government assembled to consider options for expanding publicly-supported medical and dental education in Spokane. As a result, an expansion of the existing WWAMI medical education program in Spokane, with concurrent development of a new RIDE program, was recommended.

Impact: A RIDE program in Spokane will produce additional dentists to serve patients in rural and underserved areas in Eastern Washington. Students will have interdisciplinary experiences and unique opportunities to understand the needs of the region through community-based care. The RIDE program will promote dissemination of new knowledge and practices through continuing dental education. In Spokane, biomedical research will be enhanced through collaborations among faculty of the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University and Washington State University. Similar opportunities with regional institutions would be possible for future additional RIDE sites.


Washington State Total Population

Washington State Population Growth

Source: Washington State Office of Financial Management



Dental Care Shortage Areas for Washington State

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