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) into a premier, interdisciplinary program. As residents, we now recognize the importance of continuing our roles in outreach wherever we practice and in ways meaningful to us. By hosting programs such as GKAS, you engage every element of your community. We propose four tiers to a service hierarchy that will help you maximize your enthusiasm for service in dental school and beyond.
Yourself: Community outreach programs provide foundational leadership skills no matter your desired level of engagement. As a participant, you learn the values of volunteerism, paying it forward and mentorship. Many service events such as GKAS recruit predental students and other like-minded young adults. We both volunteered as predental students, and the role the more senior students had in orchestrating the event launched our interests in serving GKAS in a greater capacity. We became event coordinators after serving at each committee level. We passed our legacy on to the classes below, and you can too as a mentor. As a coordinator, you build on your organizational and delegation skills, which will apply to your everyday role as an office leader.
Your practice: Members of your practice can help organize and run your program. It also allows staff members to pursue areas of interest within the program, such as decorating, budgeting or entertainment. Service event planning strengthens office morale and showcases your practice as a leader in your community.
Your referral network: As a new private or corporate dentist or specialist, outreach programs can help build rapport with future referrals. With interdisciplinary care, your event is not limited to preventive treatment. Call on the experience of other dentists and specialists to perform comprehensive treatment, namely restorations, extractions or pulpotomies, and the skill set of those with advanced behavioral management training, especially for a GKAS event. Local and state dental societies are invaluable resources in the initial phases of your event, where you hope to expand your dental network and gain groundswell in the public eye.
Your community: Promoting better oral and overall health in your community should not be restricted to an annual service project. Collaborate with school nurses to monitor children’s oral health throughout the year, provide dental screenings to elders in assisted-living homes, meet with local sports teams about the importance of mouth guards and connect with parent groups to raise the community dental IQ. Your main event plays a small part in the ongoing efforts you will provide for your new town or city.
If you approach service in this light, the impact of your work will be rewarding and far-reaching. Community outreach is contagious, and we hope you caught the bug.
~ Dr. Kelly Cundy, Nova Southeastern ’16, and Dr. Adam Saltz, MPH, Nova Southeastern ’17
ASDA’s National Outreach Initiative is generously supported by
This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.