On March 11, Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) approved S.B. 313, the state budget (FY15 appropriations). The approved budget allocates sufficient funding to add six additional New Mexico dental slots to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
In 2013, New Mexico had 21 WICHE certified applicants with offers, but only 12 received support. The approved FY15 state budget will increase the number of New Mexico dental slots to 18.
Sen. Mark Moores (R-NM), WICHE Commissioner and New Mexico Dental Association Executive Director played an integral role in ensuring that funding for additional dental slots remained on the forefront during budget negotiations.
According to information provided by the Department of Health (DOH), New Mexico is experiencing a dental healthcare professional shortage. All New Mexico counties, except one, are federally designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations. Additionally, New Mexico ranks 49th among the 50 states in per-capita income for dentists. Access to dental healthcare and preventive services is challenging in many communities throughout New Mexico, thus increasing the number of dental students will have a significant impact on the state. 92% of dentistry graduates supported by WICHE return to New Mexico and serve.