Recruiting New Dentists in Iowa:  A guide for your community to be successful

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Since 1997, the Iowa Dentist Tracking System at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine has collected data on dentists in Iowa. By 2006, approximately 54 percent of the dentists were over the age of 50, and 79 of the 99 Iowa counties were federally designated dental professional shortage areas in Iowa.

To address the potential dentist workforce shortage through attrition and retirement, the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics’ Office of Iowa Practice Opportunities (OIPO) was started in January 2007 and is staffed by a full-time position of the Iowa Practice Opportunities Coordinator. The office is in a unique position to assist in the recruitment of a new dentist. It was established to promote dental practice opportunities in Iowa and serve as a free resource to any Iowa community, student, or practitioner. The Iowa Practice Opportunities Coordinator works directly with dental students and graduates and helps them to identify where opportunities are throughout the state.

In 2008, the Fulfilling Iowa’s Need for Dentists (FIND) program started. This unique private, public, non-profit collaborative partnership is committed to connecting dentists and underserved communities with the resources needed to combat a dental shortage so that dental care is close to home for every Iowan. Key stakeholders in the partnership are Delta Dental of Iowa, Iowa Area Development Group, The University of Iowa College of Dentistry Dental and Clinics’ OIPO, Aureon, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation contributes to and administers the only dental education loan repayment program for dentists in private practice in Iowa. Loan repayment for tuition debt is an incentive that can be used to attract a new dentist to a community.

Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) is a valuable partner to have when recruiting a new dentist and considering financial incentives that might be available. IADG is the business and community development leader for its sponsor partners which includes electric cooperatives, member municipal electric systems and independent telecommunication companies throughout Iowa. It brings community connections and economic development to new dentist recruitment.

This dental recruitment guide is a tool that can be used to help your community develop a dentist recruitment task force and recruit a new dentist.


Debra Hoyle
The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics
Office of Iowa Practice Opportunities

Sue Cosner
Iowa Area Development Group

Bruce Hansen
Iowa Area Development Group

Shelley Oltmans
Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce

Rachael Patterson-Rahn
I-Smile Coordinator
Lee County Health Department

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number T12HP30318, Grants to States to Support Oral Health Workforce Activities, $408,056. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

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