From the cornfields to the dentist's chair
Amy Full, DDS ’19, grew up in a cornfield. And today, she’s practicing dentistry in those same cornfields, fulfilling her lifelong dream to practice rural dentistry. Part of what made that dream possible was scholarship funding.
Full received the Dorothy and Owen Wynne Friendship Scholarship and the Holland/Jensen Scholarship, both of which helped relieve her financial burden and free her to practice rural dentistry without concern for her ability to pay back student loans. But the scholarship that led her to where she is today was the Minnesota Collaborative Rural Oral Health Project (MNCROHP) grant.
Launched in 2015, MNCROHP funds students who will consider rural dental practice after their graduation. The project pairs student volunteers with rural dentists for a three-week orientation to rural dentistry and community service. For some participants, this grant funding introduces them to a kind of dentistry and lifestyle they might not otherwise see as a possibility for their future. For Full, it was the fulfillment of what she had always hoped for.
“The experience allowed me to observe and learn, and to see the countless hours of procedures, morning huddles, office operations and community engagement that a small community had to offer,” Full recalled of the experience. “It showed me the behind-the-scenes life of what living and working in a small town is like.”
In addition to shadowing a dentist mentor in practice, Full had the opportunity to work with the Karen community of refugees on oral health outreach and access to care. Following her experience with MNCROHP, Full knew she had made the right decision coming to the University of Minnesota and pursuing rural outreach. She continued to pursue community experiences, including shadowing experiences in her hometown, participating in an Outreach opportunity in Willmar and work in a very small community in Northern Minnesota.
“These experiences in rural communities allowed my love for rural dentistry to grow,” Full reflected. “The rural communities of Minnesota have given me so much, and I am excited to give back.”
Full credits MNCROHP as one of the most influential experiences she had in school.
“The learning was hands-on and practical,” she said. “It not only confirmed my love for rural Minnesota but also showed me that, through a great mentorship, young dentists can grow and become great additions to a small town practice.”
Today, Full works in southwest Minnesota, serving communities like the ones she came from.
“Since graduating, I have worked in rural dentistry and continue to share my love for dentistry with rural communities,” she reflected. “The scholarships I received while in dental school gave me encouragement and financial help to pursue these dreams. It is exciting to wake up each week and serve family, friends and community members doing something I love.”