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Dentistry Externships Overseas: Students and Faculty Participate in Externship in Jamaica

Nov 20, 2013
A group of Oregon Institute of Technology dental hygiene students and faculty spent the remainder of their summer break volunteering their time and talents overseas.

Klamath Falls, ORE. – A group of Oregon Institute of Technology dental hygiene students and faculty spent the remainder of their summer break volunteering their time and talents overseas. For 7 days in September, a team of senior students and Associate Professor Jan Cope traveled to the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea to provided dental hygiene care to Jamaicans living in rural areas of St. Elizabeth’s Parish near Whitehouse.

The trip is part of the International Externship Program (IEP), which provides students the opportunity to travel outside the United States on a dental care mission. While the primary goal of the trip is to provide dental care to those in need, students are also exposed to a new culture, which offers learning opportunities that can benefit future patient interactions in their career and beyond.

IEP student, Hannah Parker, shared her experience: "Being fortunate enough to travel to Jamaica for IEP with the Dental Hygiene program was an absolute life-changing experience; because of this trip it is my goal to continue to travel abroad throughout my professional career and provide dental work to those in need."

During the week, IEP team members collaborated with Great Shape 1000 Smiles, the world’s largest, international humanitarian dental project, to provide dental hygiene care and education to Jamaican children and adults. More than 300 individuals received dental hygiene services totaling a conservative estimate of $28,000 in value.

“IEP teams plan for their experience and raise funds and supplies for two quarters; they travel in their third quarter of study,” said Dental Hygiene Department Chair Jill Schultz. “This is an exciting project that allows students to use their clinical skills in a setting that requires flexibility and critical thinking. Team participants also learn about and experience another culture first hand.”

Past destinations of the IEP include Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala, and Vietnam. Travel is coordinated through a global medical organization and an in-country partner.

To learn more about Oregon Tech’s Dental Hygiene Program, please contact Jan Cope at 541.885.1352 or visit www.oit.edu/academics/degrees/dental-hygiene.

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