Bulletin of Dental Education

Combining Community Service and Student Learning: One School's Experience

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Community service is an integral aspect of the educational experience at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD). From scheduled rotations in pediatric dentistry to volunteer clinics, students at UKCD are offered many opportunities to make contributions to the improvement of the commonwealth’s oral health. At the same time, students and faculty have an opportunity to educate predental students about the profession and offer beginning student dentists valuable insight into attributes that will maximize the benefits of their experience.

In one community outreach effort, members of the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) initiated a service project called the Salvation Army Dental Clinic. This clinic, which is hosted by student and faculty volunteers every Tuesday night during the academic year, provides free, basic dental care to indigent adults in the community. The clinic not only helps student to build basic dental skills, but also allows them to interact with colleagues from other colleges in the Medical Center and reinforces the interdisciplinary nature of the dental profession.

In another effort, the college’s American Student Dental Association chapter has maintained strong student involvement in its Saturday Morning Clinic program, a service project treating low-income families that student dentists, predental students, faculty, and residents have operated for over 25 years. This year, the clinic earned coverage in the Lexington Herald-Leader, helping inform both potential patients and volunteers in the central Kentucky community. The clinic is also a great recruiting tool because it allows predental students to gain hands-on experience, engage in discussions with dental students, and learn more about opportunities in the profession.

To prepare first-year dental students for the rigors of dental school, the school’s chapter of the ADEA Council of Students has developed a new seminar called “Preclinical Success.” This session, which will be conducted by Dr. Russ Byron, an accomplished restorative dentist at UKCD, will cover time management, self-evaluation, organizational skills, artistic thinking, “waxing tricks,” and other topics to help students maximize their success in all preclinical courses. The chapter hopes to host “Clinical Success” seminars for second- and third-year students this autumn, while offering fourth-year students seminars on making the transition to dental practice and adjusting to a postgraduate program.


Reporting by D.T. Thompson, Dustin Hall, Lucas Bowen, and Jason Johnston,
University of Kentucky ADEA Council of Students

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