As I stepped foot off the plane, I could already see the need within the community in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Haiti has endured several natural disasters and political instability. Within Haiti, there are approximately 300 dentists for 10.32 million people. After meeting with the dean at the University of Haiti dental school and hearing that, I was in shock. We are needed more than I could imagine, and our presence couldn’t be more welcomed. After arriving in the remote town of Leogane, I knew the people there most likely had not seen a dentist in a long time. We drove down a dirt road through several sugar cane fields just to get to our destination. When we arrived at the Rasin Foundation in Leogane on Thursday morning, there was a crowd of people waiting for us. This made me so happy because this showed that the town was very eager for our arrival and receptive to receiving oral care.
On April 29, 2017 our Asian Dental Organization (ADO) members helped promote oral health at the Women’s Lunch Place. The “Place” had begun in 1982 serving women with lunch while providing a safe, welcoming place of supportive day community. They seek to provide them with basic necessities and services that help restore dignity and hope.
Justin Chow (D20) shares his amazing experience, “Volunteering at Women’s Lunch Place was such a great experience. We provided toothbrushes and toothpaste as well oral health education to 28 women in the community. This was my first time interacting with patients in the community and I quickly learned how differently people viewed oral health care. Some women knew far more than most about brushing, flossing, and what dental care they needed, while other women just wanted the free toothbrush and toothpaste. No matter their knowledge we were able to educate these women on correct techniques to brushing. We also provided brochures to women who were seeking dental care and these brochures provided information about tufts and how to become a patient. Overall this experience was very eye opening and we will definitely try to set up more events like this in the future.”
Though postponed due to an earlier snow storm, this year’s Women in the Clinic Leadership Forum, was an amazing event thanks to our exceptional leader – rock star organizer Jackie Liu (D19)! With much support from Dean Thomas, Student Affairs and the Dept. of Public Health, the dinner event focused on empowering women to take leadership roles in the clinic, and also covered both rewards and the pitfalls surrounding this goal.
Highlights abound, including an impassioned call by Dr. Hanlon to become the next generation of female leaders in organized dentistry to remember that “patients are not points…and to be committed to their care every day.” Following Dr. Hanlon, Student Affairs Director Katherine Vosker explained the rights that students have in the clinic and who to go to in case of any uncomfortable incidences.
The evening continued with an amazing panel of D17s who shared their experiences and offered tips and wisdom for all the remaining female students. A special shout out to the fabulous D17 panelists: Poorna Phaltankar, Crista Fantone, Anna Bak, Brittany Bressler and Mansi Jailwala. The Q&A panel was moderated by Nancy Marks, and topics included gender issues, the interconnection between community work and clinic work, how to become a TA, assumptions about race, balancing didactic learning with clinic life and applying for jobs.
On April 21st , American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) gave an oal health presentation at Goodwill Massachusetts. Alexandra Naski (D18) reflects, “Kevin Campbell (D18) and I had a lot of fun giving an interactive oral health presentation to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities! We visited the group at Goodwill Massachusetts as a part of their “Healthy Living” themed month. We had around 30 participants show up. Everyone was very excited to have us there, and the group had a lot of questions for us on everything from “What are teeth made of?” to “What causes a cavity?”. The participants were especially interested in the models we brought that showed the progression of a cavity, and the posters showing snacks and drinks that are good vs bad for teeth. After we completed the presentation a few of the participants even chose to stay after and demonstrate their new oral hygiene knowledge on the models we brought!”
It’s great to hear how both our volunteers and participants had an amazing time filled with much enthusiasm learning about good oral health and hygiene!
On Tuesday, March 7th Lunch & Learn session was held on supporting the successful transition from seasoned student group leaders to those up-and coming and/or newly elected leaders. It was a great time spent with exchange of ideas and suggestions among various student organization leaders.
“When all is said and done, your ability as a leader will not be only be remembered by what you achieved personally and what your organization accomplished during your tenure. You will be also be remembered by how well your organization did after you were gone. Your lasting value will be measured by your succession.”
Check out some of the reflections made by our student leaders:
On February 4th, Give Kids A Smile was held at TUSDM, focusing on oral health screenings, oral health promotion, and oral health fairs. Around 100 students and faculty members worked together to put together this special day filled with smiles, laughter, and fun.
Paul Serrano (D19) reflects: “This was the first year that the “Give Kid A Smile” event was held at Tufts. On this day, TUSDM took part in a national community outreach initiative created by the ADA Foundation. TUSDM opened its doors to children ages 0-13 for free dental screenings, exams, and fluoride varnish treatment – all with the hope of helping young children find a permanent “dental home” at TUSDM. Oral health promotion, children educational activities, and various games with prizes also took place in Merritt Auditorium, under the guidance and supervision of student and faculty volunteers.
On Saturday February 18, 2017, AAWD Tufts colleagues teamed up with Science Club for Girls to host a ‘Show Me the Science’ event at Northeastern’s International Village. Our event goals included promoting scientific inquiry, building self-confidence through hands-on experiments, and increasing literacy in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) for girls from grades kindergarten to 8th grade.
Tufts Dental students Kristin Bradley (D20), Sandy Lor (D18), Christy Collins (D18), Mindy Nguyen (D18), Annie Le (D18) and Sangita Murali (D18) enjoyed fostering excitement and confidence in STEM through their Tooth Decay experiment with the young attendees. For the experiment, we divided up into stations.