National Health Service Corps- Dr. Stephen Beestra, Dentist

National Health Service Corps- Dr. Stephen Beestra, Dentist


Ah, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity.
It’s the opportunity for you to give back to your community, uh, and it’s the opportunity to give, uh, for
you to increase your skills. It’s a win-win situation for both the community
and, and a provider. When people talk about driving to go see
a dentist, in New Mexico, you don’t talk about one or two miles, you talk about 50 or 60 miles to go
see a dentist. New Mexico ranks fiftieth in per, uh, dentist per population, and fiftieth in access to care. When people think underserved, they think of
mostly the poor and medically compromised, but right now in New Mexico, underserved has
nothing to do with your ability to pay, it’s just your inability to access care because
we have such a shortage of dentists. When I first came here the university
with the hygiene school provided about 500 to 700 patient visits per year. This year, we’re gonna be over 35,000
patient visits. One of the experiences that we’ve learned here
at the University of New Mexico is it’s more important for us to grow our own dentists than it is to recruit dentists in from other states. First of all, there’s not enough dentists
in Roswell. So, that’s one of the main reasons why
I want to go back. That’s where I was born, that’s where I was raised.
My entire family is there. So, there’s no reason for me not to go back
and give back to who got me interested in dentistry. It’s gotten to the point where, many days we’ve
had to turn away a good 30, 40 people on the phones,
calling up at our office just because we don’t have the room to see them. Money is not the most important thing in this field. I mean, you’re gonna pay off your debts
no matter how much you incur. The fulfillment you get in bringing these,
these people who have had no choice of care in the past, you know, and you go in there and you help ’em out, and it’s just the fulfillment factor is just
so much greater than any monetary um, compensation you
can get out in the, you know, in the big cities
or wherever else. These are our soldiers.
These are our soldiers. These are the people who are gonna make a difference. And when I talk about the ability of the
University of New Mexico and the ability of the National Health Service Corps, I’m thinking about enabling these young students to go out into the communities and
make a difference. This is uh, central avenu-, avenue, which is
historic route 66. Route 66 is the, uh, the lifeline of America. This is the typical working-poor neighborhood that we see in the southeast sites of Albuquerque and this neighborhood has gotten significantly better. I mean, it is much much better than it was um, three, or four, or five years ago. Through the help of the university and
the Kellogg Foundation, and the City of Albuquerque and the
Department of Health of New Mexico, we decided that this area would be a primary
to focus on bringing needs to the unser-, uh, underserved. This facility is in the South East Heights of Albuquerque. It’s been called the war zone. And, when I came here there was not a single
dentist in this quadrant of the city. Our goal is to try to improve the
health of the community and a lot of times it seems like you
do it one tooth at a time.
-Well, ha, come on Bill let’s go.
Come on Tessy. I can’t stress how good it has been
for me and my family going into the National Health Service Corps. Gave us the opportunities to see
a lot of the country. It gave us the opportunities to make impacts
and develop programs. And, and it set the course of my career. NHSC programs allowed me to continue
to do what I do. And, uh, it’s only through the NHSC
that I was able to do it.


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