Building student involvement, fostering civic engagement and enhancing community service to advance public health. 

Last week, the HDA traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with around 20 undergraduate dental students and 5 faculty to provide free dental services for the underserved population. Through a collaborative partnership with Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña, a private dental school there, they were able to use their facilities which is equipped with around 40 dental chairs and sterilization unit. The patients they saw were pre-screened by the students at school and were transported from within and outside the capital city to come for services, all through a non-profit organization Vida y Esperanza Fundación. This year HDA members did a number of restorative, preventative, and surgical treatments for both pediatric and adult patients, in addition to treatment and diagnosis. Trip coordinator Avanthi Tiruvadi (D16) was able to reflect on the last week’s trip:

“The experience was rewarding for all students involved. Teamwork, service, and culture are important themes that I thought this GSL Trip had. Teamwork was a key role in the cohesiveness of each day in terms of efficiency and skill building. This aspect brought all students together and exemplified the importance of open communication and our strengths when working well together. The services we provided to the community showed us as students the impact we are able to make in people’s lives. One seemingly mundane filling on a front tooth done by one of students, free of charge, may have changed a patient’s life in addition to their oral health. The gratitude of the community we served was humbling and is something each student will remember for the rest of their careers. Lastly, cultural exposure was a unique experience. It provided students with the opportunity to be immersed in a rich and vibrant environment and, for some, in a different language than their own. It was wonderful to see some students learn basic Spanish and utilize it with their patients in such a short amount of time. The faculty were also key to the learning process. They provided insight into how to handle triage and diagnosing with minimal tools.”

Interested in joining the HDA on their Global Service Learning trip next year? Check out the newly launched Global Connections page at Dental Central and read more about trips to the Dominican Republic and Zambia.

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