Think you don’t have time to squeeze volunteering into your busy schedule? Think again. Here are five reasons volunteering your skills can help you in the long run.
1. Help patients (and yourself)
More than ever, there is a need for the dental care offered through volunteer programs across the country. For every person treated, that is one more person who is less likely to end up in the emergency room in acute pain. Your assistance can make a huge impact on their quality of life. In turn it might help you forget about the stress of school and remember why you want to be a dentist.
2. Meet other dentists
Volunteering is a great way to network with a variety of dentists in the area. Even if you are planning to practice elsewhere after dental school, seeing dentists in action is always a learning opportunity. Different practitioners bring unique perspectives and approaches to every case. You can even use this time to ask them questions about their career.
3. Get exposure to a wide range of cases
Many charitable oral health care events attract a very diverse population of patients with a wide range of issues that encompass not only their oral health, but their general quality of life as well. Gain real-life exposure to the intersection of oral health and general health conditions. Take away first-hand knowledge about assessing, triaging and treating cases in a way that provides maximum patient benefit, often in under less than ideal situations.
4. Build your patient communication skills
Each patient you meet is an opportunity to hone your communication skills. Use your volunteering time to engage with patients and their families. Help educate them about their oral health. Explain what’s needed for their treatment, answer their questions, allay their apprehensions and celebrate with them as they move toward a healthier life. If you need to brush up on your patient communication skills before an event, take a look at The Patient Experience: What it is and Why it Matters for some helpful tips.
5. Remind yourself why you’re in dental school
The daily grind of coursework, exams, and the dedication it takes to survive dental school can sometimes cause you to lose sight of the reason why you chose to pursue dentistry in the first place. Taking a day to volunteer can help remind you of all the reasons you love your work and help you get excited for the career path you’re on now.
The ADA Foundation offers a variety of scholarships and awards just for dental students, some of which support and encourage dental student volunteer efforts. To find a Give Kids A Smile event near you and contact them about volunteer opportunities, call 1-844-490-GKAS (4527). The best time to call is between mid-December and mid-January. For information on volunteering internationally, visit internationalvolunteer.ada.org. You can also check out Mission of Mercy events in your area.
~American Dental Association Center for Professional Success
This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.