Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation announces loan repayment for service awards bringing dentists to rural Minnesota communities

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January 16th, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, in collaboration with the Minnesota Dental Foundation, has named Christopher Steffenson, D.D.S., and Michael Talberg, D.D.S. as the 2017 recipients of the Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists Loan Repayment for Service program, which brings dental professionals to rural Minnesota communities. Dr. Steffenson will practice in Walker, while Dr. Talberg will practice in Cook.The Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists program aims to improve access to care for underserved communities in rural Minnesota by reducing student loan debt in exchange for the dentist’s service in an underserved community. The average student loan debt of graduating dentists exceeds $250,000, which is a barrier to new dentists practicing in Greater Minnesota. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation allocated $2 million to fund up to ten program participants. Each participant is eligible for up to $200,000 in loan repayment in exchange for five years of service to their community and are required to serve public program patients.

Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, more than 50 are considered dental health professional shortage areas (HPSA) by the federal government. People who live in dental HPSA areas often have difficulties finding dentists near their home, which can decrease oral health.

Dr. Christopher Steffenson

Dr. Christopher Steffenson, a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, will work at the Pederson Bilben Family Dental in Walker.

“This investment from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation will allow me to provide dental treatment practices to people in Walker and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Steffenson. “I hope to be part of the solution of providing accessible dental care to people who need it most."

Dr. Michael Talberg

Dr. Michael Talberg, also a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, will serve patients at Scenic Rivers Health Services in Cook.

“This loan repayment for service program means so much to me both professionally and personally. It is helping me live my dream of providing oral health care services to people in my community without the worry of student loans,” said Talberg.

Since 2014, eight Minnesota dentists have received $200,000 in loan repayment for service in exchange for five-year commitments to their community. Recipients work in the cities of Benson, Cook, Deerwood, Ely, International Falls, Mora, Ogema, Walker and Warroad.For more, visit: