In the operatory where I work hangs a sign that reads “Welcome Home.” It hangs among a wall of photos — most of them black and white — of men and women dressed in uniform (some more casually), standing on warships or next to aircrafts. I work as a general dentist at the outpatient Veterans Affairs (VA) dental clinic in Chico, California. Many of my patients like to add their photos from their time of service to our decorated wall. For them, sharing photos is their way of sharing their stories.
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This past fall, our Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) ASDA chapter partnered with our local Ronald McDonald House to serve families who are displaced while their seriously ill or injured child receives care at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. We helped provide home-cooked meals for families on a monthly basis, interacting with them and spreading information about our resources at IUSD, which is located across the street. These dinners also served as a time for the family members to share their child’s story and connect with other parents who may be going through similar experiences.
Recently, the Buffalo chapter of ASDA hosted a session of “Fun and Games with UB Dental” at our local nursing home, Elderwood. We chose to volunteer with this population because we often see that geriatric individuals are underserved when it comes to oral hygiene knowledge as well as access to oral hygiene supplies.
Outreach starts with you. Students champion a wide number of service efforts that improve the oral and overall health of the underserved. But translating these programs into private practice, as new dentists in a new community, can feel daunting or unfeasible. During dental school, we helped grow Nova Southeastern University’s Give Kids A Smile (GKAS)… Read more »
To make the most of your dental education, collaborating with community outreach opportunities is essential. Get out of your comfort zone to learn about issues impacting your communities, while gaining clinical and interprofessional skills.
For 39 days a year, I wear the uniform of the U. S. Army. That’s 12 weekends and 15 days of annual training. But for 365 days a year, I am a dental student, a person and a member of a community. Veterans face barriers to accessing dental care they need. Opportunities arise around us every day to serve others. How can we use our knowledge and skills as dentists to serve those who served our country?