A program launched by a group of dental students at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry (U-M SOD) to provide oral health care to disabled and homeless veterans in northern lower Michigan has won a major national award from the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation.
Led by third-year dental student Jesse Edwards, students in the Wolverine Patriot Project saw an urgent oral health care need that was not being met and did something about it.
For their efforts, the dental students were named recipients of the 2013 Bud Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award. The award recognizes dental school student programs that demonstrate excellence in providing help to underserved groups of individuals in the United States.
“I was studying for exams when I received an e-mail with the news about winning the award,” Mr. Edwards says. “I was so excited that, after calming down, I called Tony Guinn and Dr. Bill Piskorowski to share the good news.”
Mr. Guinn, president of the school-wide student council, is elated. “I still can’t believe we won the award,” he says with a smile. “I’m sure this achievement will be one of the highlights of my dental education here at Michigan.” Mr. Guinn said he, Mr. Edwards and others involved in the program—Ameen Shahnam, Kevin Goles and Mariam Dinkha—“were often here at the dental school until midnight reviewing and discussing the information we would submit, emphasizing the needs of the veterans above all.”
The Wolverine Patriot Project was established in April 2012 with two major objectives: the first to provide comprehensive, free dental care to disabled and homeless veterans; the second to enhance student education and professional training under auspices of the School’s Pathways program. An integral part of the dental curriculum, the Pathways program gives U-M SOD students opportunities to explore career options in health care delivery, leadership or research.