Dr. Carole Pratt is one of the lucky rural dentists who has been chosen to be one of the five lucky dentist for the RWJF health policy fellows. She has been practicing general dentistry in rural Virginia. Now, she is going to Washington, D.C. as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow. She is greatly thrilled for the opportunity to learn about the policy-making side of improving health care access and especially so in the rural scenario.
Dr. Carole Pratt was raised on a farm in rural Smyth County and was steeped in southwest Virginia’s civic life and spirit of volunteerism. Dr. Pratt is one of five 2011-12 RWJF fellows who begin one-year terms in September. The work she has done so far have all been in the health care and in rural communities. This is what enables her to I know the challenges of rural families.
This is what she had to say about her experiences - My husband and I practiced for 32 years in rural Pulaski County which has a population 35,000. When we opened the doors in 1976, there were very few dental specialists within convenient driving distance from our community. Thankfully that has changed and there is a wide range of excellent specialty care available nearby.
There are several advantages of practicing in rural areas. Firstly, dentists have the opportunity to become involved in every aspect of the community. From hospital boards seeking individuals with some knowledge of health care and business to community bank boards, there are many opportunities for volunteer service.
Dr. Pratt served four terms as chair of Virginia’s Board of Health and was vice chair of the Department of Medical Assistance Services. She has several wonderful achievements to her name such as named a fellow of the National Rural Health Association in 2009 and currently serves on the board of the Virginia Oral Health Coalition. She is a board member of the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium, which was created to support medical residency preceptor sites in underserved communities.