Submitted by the New York University College of Dentistry
When Prof. Janet E. Tuthill, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene at the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD), was charged with selecting two dental hygiene students for NYUCD's recent outreach to Machias, Maine, she immediately knew that second-year student Ms. Rosa Maria Salvo had to be one of them.
"In school, everyone is focused on getting good grades and getting their work done," says Prof. Tuthill. "But some people also see the bigger picture, such as why they are in health care in the first place, and Rosa is such a person. She is not only very caring and enthusiastic, but has the high academic standing required to go on an outreach, which always demands a lot of hard work."
Ms. Salvo, who considers Prof. Tuthill one of her mentors, was extremely pleased to go to Machias this past October, since one of the primary reasons she chose NYUCD was to gain more exposure to dental community service and outreach.
"It was very moving for me to provide care to underserved adults and children," says Ms. Salvo. "One mother was actually crying while I instructed her 8-year-old daughter on brushing and flossing. She was just so grateful that we were there. Her daughter actually wrote me a thank-you note afterward."
Ms. Salvo hails from Middle Village in Queens, New York. "Both of my parents were born in Sicily, and they are very proud of me," she said. "I am very proud of me. It was hard getting to where I am today, and I am very happy and grateful to have had so much success."
In addition, Ms. Salvo has enjoyed going into New York City schools to gain more public health experience. "On our pediatric rotation, the NYU dental van takes us to different schools. In one Brooklyn school, I could see that some kids really didn't brush their teeth and didn't know that it's important to do so. It gave me such pleasure afterward when a little elementary-school girl said, 'I'll start brushing. I want to make you happy, Rosa.' As oral hygienists, we have the chance to make an early impact and help kids form good oral health habits for life."
"I love giving all of my patients a fresh start. I try to inspire them by saying, 'Now you've really got to start taking care of your teeth if you haven't been doing so already. Don't look back. I'm giving you a fresh start.'"