In this session representatives from the University of Michigan, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Howard University dental schools discussed their experience using ADEA’s ExploreHealthCareers.org as a tool for online mentoring. These three pilot projects from ADEA and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) shared the challenges and successes that accompany an online mentoring program. Marita R. Inglehart, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan, spoke about the successful collaboration of ExploreHealthCareers.org with a mentoring program for high school students in an area that lacks access to dental care. Dr. Inglehart explained how she used the website as a tool to introduce students to the professions of dentistry and dental hygiene. After exploring the website, the high school students involved in the program had an opportunity to visit the University of Michigan dental school and later engaged with their mentors to present an oral health fair at their school.
The volunteer mentors involved in this program were encouraged to start discussions, schedule and host chat sessions, monitor comments on the site, keep content up-to-date, and ensure that the students followed all guidelines. The panelists at this session conveyed the positive rewards of being a mentor. They expressed that being a part of this program was a great opportunity for career enhancement and honing leadership skills. Many panelists also expressed the satisfaction of having a positive impact on young adults and the rewards of hearing many of the students say they are interested in a dental career.
Additionally, the presenters discussed their program’s strategies for community outreach and specifically how to engage with students who lack access to dental care. The three pilot programs found that the ExploreHealthCareers.org website is a successful mentoring tool.
The session concluded with a live demonstration of ADEA’s website www.ExploreHealthCareers.org by ADEA Project Director Henryne G. Tobias, Ed.M., who explained how to use the interactive site to educate parents and children about the value of oral health.
The DSOP Online Mentoring site is available to all dental schools. The password-protected site includes online mentoring resources, a social networking community, discussion topics, and interactive quizzes.
The panelists for this session included Jeanne C. Sinkford, D.D.S., Ph.D.; W. David Brunson, D.D.S.; Marita R. Inglehart, Ph.D.; Evelyn Lucas-Perry, fourth-year dental student; Aljernon J. Bolden, D.M.D., M.P.H.; and Henryne Tobias, M.Ed..