The University of Kentucky College of Dentistry’s chapter of ASDA has a rich history of giving back to the people of Lexington and Central Kentucky. One of the unique ways we do this is by organizing monthly, student-run, free dental clinics for children ages 4–12. Saturday Morning Clinic (SMC) was started over 40 years ago by dental students who wanted to promote good oral health and give back to the community. This clinic is the dental home for children of Lexington and Central Kentucky who are from underserved backgrounds, uninsured or underinsured.
The University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD) students provide dental treatment to the children under the supervision of pediatric dentistry residents and dentists. First- and second-year DMD students perform new patient exams, cleanings, fluoride varnish, SDF and sealants, while the third- and fourth-years provide treatments such as restorations, stainless-steel crowns, pulpotomies, extractions and nitrous sedation when necessary. The SMC environment is inviting for underclassmen students to work alongside upperclassmen in the clinic to serve as mentors and partner in treating patients.
SMC has seven coordinators: four fourth-year dental students and three third-year students who are elected by their ASDA peers every year. The coordinators are responsible for selecting the dates, coordinating with faculty and staff, and running the clinic. In addition to treating patients, the coordinators gain experience on the management and operations side of running a clinic. Being a coordinator improves your communication and leadership skills, thanks to regular interaction with faculty, residents and parents.
We believe SMC makes our UKCD ASDA chapter unique and provides a wonderful, free service to children in need in our community and surrounding counties. After a long week of school, nothing is more rewarding than providing free dental care to kids in our community!
COVID-19 + SMC
As we transition back to clinic, the coordinators pushed to get SMC back with a new “COVID protocol” to continue to serve our community, especially in tough times. Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel SMC in March, April and May. With our patients not receiving care for the past six months, this was our driving force to get approval. We worked closely with our clinical directors, IT department and faculty to make this possible.
In the past, SMC ran on a first come, first serve basis. However, this is no longer possible. Moving forward with SMC required lots of planning, logistics and meetings to brainstorm the new patient flow of SMC. We partnered closely with our IT department to create an online encrypted portal for families to sign up their children and fill out paperwork and consent forms prior to their appointments. Our patient’s safety and protecting their personal information are our priority. Patients will now have assigned times to arrive with one parent or guardian.
The Friday before, the coordinators will pair DMD students and patients, call patients to confirm appointment times and ask COVID-19 screening questions. Upon arrival, anyone wishing to enter the clinic will be screened, given a mask and have their temperature taken. We understand everything is extremely fluid, but we look forward to giving back in our community. Our first SMC is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2020.
SMC allows UKCD students to be service-minded and give back through dentistry. SMC is such an amazing community service event each month, allowing our DMD students to have fun treating kids and escape the chaotic routine of dental school. Our ASDA chapter truly believes we have a responsibility to help those less fortunate, and Saturday Morning Clinic is a great outlet to make this a reality.
~ Spencer Laufer, Kentucky ’21, ASDA Council on Professional Issues Associate