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The Indian Health Advisory Board consists of the seven Indian Chiefs of which the Union Hospital serves in the city of North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
Modern technology, combined with the foresight of some dentists and health authorities in the government, has enabled the development of this program for isolated people of the Canadian North.
In the past it was difficult to adequately staff these northern regions with dental personnel with the result that the delivery of service would be spasmodic and sometimes ineffective. In some instances, private practitioners working with assistants out of one location have attempted to operate by "blizting" and area with strangers for short intensive treatment periods.
This is poor delivery of health services and lacks the continuity that preventative dentistry requires. The concept of this dental therapist program is designed to encourage graduates to take up residence in a community and identify with the people of the settlement in order to render maximum service.
A grade 12 level of education is required for acceptance into the program, although in special cases students exhibiting unusual potential with less than the required standard of education will be given an opportunity to compete in the program.
One major responsibility for the graduates will be to fulfill their role as dental health educators. In addition to their background course in preventive dentistry, a program in public speaking and classroom with the elementary and high schools of Fort Smith, N.W.T. During this phase of the program students are given classroom assignments and evaluated by the schoolteachers.
This plan also extends into the field program in settlements during the second year.
Second year students spend a minimum of one-month working in an isolated field location. The first portable satellite clinic was held in Pangnirtung, N.W.T. This Eskimo settlement of about 800 people, located of Forbisher Bay on Baffin Island, is accessible only by air.
Art Burrow, Indian Health Zone Director at North Battleford says that any interested applicants can receive more information from any Indian Health Centre located throughout the province.