The University of Saskatchewan has temporarily closed the Prince Albert Campus Dental Clinic to patients in order to renovate the space and accommodate students in a new dental therapy program.
“We are very excited. This is a two-year program designed in a very unique way,” College of Dentistry Acting Dean Dr. Walter Siqueira said. “This program was designed to serve the underrepresented population and open new opportunities for jobs.”
Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Dental Therapy program will launch in Fall 2023, to become Canada’s first and only dental therapy degree program.
The university is planning to teach the dental therapy programs at three satellite campuses; in Prince Albert at the University of Saskatchewan campus, in La Ronge at the Northlands College campus and in Regina at the Sask Polytech campus.
The program will accept seven students per year at each campus location, for a total of 21 students per year. It will focus on recruiting Indigenous students. The locations of the campuses will enable students to learn where they live.
Siqueira anticipates enrollment in the dental therapy program will open in March 2023.
“We just don’t want to graduate dentists. We want to graduate dental assistants and therapists who are each an important part of the dental team,” said Siqueira.
Once the renovations are complete, the Prince Albert Campus Dental Clinic will accommodate 14 students who will work alongside University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry dental residents and senior dental students under the supervision of licensed dentists.
Siqueira says there are also options for students who opt out of the program early.
If a student completes six months, they will receive a dental aid certificate. And if they complete one year, they will receive a dental assistant certificate.
“If for any reason that student decides not to finish the program they can still work.”
The federal government provided $2.1 million dollars in funding to the University of Saskatchewan on June 8, 2022, to establish the dental therapy program.
The funding came from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Indigenous Services Canada.
PRINCE ALBERT PATIENTS
The Prince Albert Campus Dental Clinic is expected to remain closed for one year and re-open in August 2023.
Existing patients needing further treatment like a crown or a bridge were sent a letter and given the option to see a partner dentist in Prince Albert or to travel to the University of Saskatchewan clinic in Saskatoon for the remainder of their care.
These clinics provide care to the public at a reduced fee rate. Experienced dentists practice at the clinic along with College of Dentistry dental students under the supervision of licensed dentists.
After the renovations, students studying to be dentists and those in the dental therapy program will practise at the clinic.