The American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct state that, “Individual dentists have an obligation to use their skills, knowledge and experience for the improvement of the dental health of the public and are encouraged to be leaders in their community.” The UNC School of Dentistry is committed to ensuring that all of its graduates live up to this expectation and are committed to community service.
As more Americans find themselves outside of the oral health care delivery system, it is necessary for dental professionals to not only provide care but to actively participate in developing solutions with multiple stakeholders targeting this growing segment of the population. Through the student-led efforts described below, our students encounter patients whose life experiences are very different from their own, and what they are accustomed to in their everyday life as a dental student. These experiences change the way these future dental professionals look at the world and, ultimately, the way they practice.
These efforts demonstrate that UNC’s students are ready to assume the role of oral health leaders who are committed to both the public and the profession, and that they will be prepared to work effectively as clinicians among diverse populations.
- Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor (DEAH DAY) is an annual day of service fully organized by the student body in memory of the late Deah Barakat and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha. Deah, a member of DDS 2017, and Yusor, a member of then-incoming DDS 2019, were dedicated to serving those in need, and DEAH DAY is our school’s way of continuing their legacy of service.
- Give Kids a Smile Day (GKAS) is held annually in coordination with the national Give Kids a Smile Day, sponsored by the American Dental Association. GKAS at UNC is an interprofessional event comprising a health fair with representatives from other units on campus in addition to providing oral care and education to young, local children.
- ENNEAD, UNC student chapter of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, is a student-led volunteer organization whose mission is to serve the underserved populations in North Carolina through dentistry. ENNEAD/AAPHD members include primarily dental students, but also students from dental hygiene, advanced education and dental assisting programs.
- Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) holds free clinics organized and run by UNC medical, dental and other health professional students. It is another example of student-led community service and outreach in which the dental school participates (Dental Student Health Action Coalition). Dental SHAC occurs most weeks while students are in session on Wednesday nights.
- The Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) strives to spread awareness of Hispanic oral health needs and issues, to provide dental services and oral health education to local Hispanic community, to emphasize the importance of familiarity with Hispanic culture and patient profiles, and to provide a voice for the Hispanic students and oral health professionals at UNC.
- The Student National Dental Association (SNDA) CAARE’s Clinic was founded to increase access to care and provide quality urgent and preventative oral health care to the underserved population in the Durham community. The clinic seeks to not only provide treatment, but vital health education including dental disease prevention, oral hygiene instruction, nutrition counseling, and overall health and wellness screening. The SNDA CAARE’s clinic operates in Durham on most Tuesday nights.
- The Samaritan Health Center (SHC) Dental Clinic is a faith-based, Christian, free dental clinic that operates of the Durham Rescue Mission. UNC School of Dentistry students and faculty members partner with SHC to hold weekly clinics on Thursday nights.
- Schweitzer Fellowships Program. Founded in 1994, the North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows Program is one of thirteen Schweitzer program sites across the U.S. dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs. Nearly 300 Schweitzer Fellows have provided over 59,000 hours of service to North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities. Partnering with area community-based organizations, these Fellows have addressed a wide variety of health needs through sustainable projects with direct service at their core. UNC School of Dentistry students have been recipients of multiple Schweitzer fellowship throughout the years.