2015 Running Strong for American Indian Youth Dreamstarter® Dr. Cristin Haase (Cheyenne River Sioux) was a promising dental student at the A.T. Still University (ATSU) of Health Sciences whose dream was to mentor future American Indian dentists.
Cristin’s dream was to implement a mentorship program at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health which entailed bringing in American Indian youth and young adults to the campus and pairing them with American Indian dental students.
In realization of her dream, Cristin established the Pre-Admission Workshop (PAW) to provide college students with a desire to become a dentist with the information they need to pass the arduous Dental Admission Test and prerequisite courses they would need to take, and ultimately successfully complete the dental school application process.
“My dream is to one day visit an Indian Health Service or tribally-run clinic and see American Indian physicians, dentists and administrators as the primary decision-makers and providers,” Cristin told us. “We are a long way from that goal. However, much can be done to increase those numbers.”
Today, Cristin’s Dreamstarter GOLD project is to continue on with and expand her dream to increase the number of American Indian/Alaska Native healthcare providers who remain significantly underrepresented in the healthcare profession.
In the years since her Dreamstarter application, she realized her personal dream of becoming a dentist and is now currently employed at an Indian Medical Center in Arizona “where nearly every person I interact with comes from various tribal backgrounds and cultures.”
And, of course, she is still serving as a mentor for American Indian students currently enrolled at her alma mater’s School of Dentistry & Oral Health, her mentor organization.
With her Dreamstarter GOLD grant, Cristin’s American Indian/Alaska Native Health Professions Workshop (AIHPW) aims to bring 60 AI/AN to immerse them in a two-day rigorous workshop for the health profession of their choice: doctor of osteopathic medicine; doctor of dental medicine; physical therapy; athletic training; or physical assistant.
“This project ultimately aims to increase the number of AI/AN healthcare providers,” says Cristin. “Ripple effects are anticipated to include improved quality of care at trial, Indian Health Services, and urban Indian health care facilities.
“With the AIHPW, ATSU intends to support outstanding AI/AN youth on their journey to become leaders and role models for their communities as healthcare providers,” she added. “We anticipate this will inspire other young people and family members to follow in the footsteps of workshop graduates, leading to the opportunity for future generations to finally experience equal representation for AI/AN people in healthcare career fields.”