The more I tell my story, the more grateful I am for everything in my life. I walk in purpose to share my journey so others can come to their own spirit of optimism. DDS fills an important void, giving kids from nontraditional families or limited means a safe place to be themselves and the freedom to imagine a career in health care. If I could do it, so can they.
DDS is one of just a few U.S. organizations providing a STEAM-based curriculum outside of the traditional school setting. Participants are matched with a mentor that serves as a cultural reference and guide to prepare for a health career, if that is the path mentees choose. And many do. Initially created as part of Christina’s participation in the American Dental Association Institute for Diversity and Leadership, DDS is creating a pathway for historically underserved young people in Memphis to careers in health care. It is Christina’s aim to expand to any communities interested because there will always be a need for mentorship.
Why Pathway Programs Matter
- Professional schools across the U.S. report low minority enrollment across all disciplines.
- Minority patients often seek health professionals who look like them.
- Minorities make up roughly 40% of the general U.S. population, which is expected to grow by more than half by 2050.
- Minorities make up just 25% of the employed health care workforce.
- Just 40% of U.S. medical schools teach about racial disparities in health care.
- Just 5.2% of U.S. dental school graduates in 2021 were Black or African American.
- Trends suggest barriers to accessing culturally competent health care will continue to grow.
- Single day symposium every August – involves roughly 85 to 175 students
- Each 6-month program averages 30 to 45 students ages 14 to 18
- In 2019, programming was added for children ages 2 to 5
- Mentorship, scholarship and shadowing opportunities
- Academic and college test prep support
- Total students served since the inaugural symposium: 1,311
- Total toddlers served since 2019 start: 63 (the program was on COVID hiatus 2020-2022)
Health Equity Heroes
Meet our 2023 Health Equity Heroes
Bridget Saffold, MSN, MPH, RN
Founder, Focus on Diabetes
Executive Director and CEO, Sacramento District Dental Society and Foundation
Christina T. Rosenthal, DDS, MPH
Founder, Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS)
Gail Tessier Brown, JD, MSW
Director, NH Oral Health Coalition
Joel Bervell, MD Candidate
Social Media Medical Educator, Washington State University
Vice President of Integrative Program Development and Clinical Innovation, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Richard C. Black, DDMS, MS
Rick and Ginger Francis Endowed Dean, Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine & Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Tammy Simmons, MS, CCC-SLP
Co-Founder, Executive Director, ACCESS
The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.