As dental students prepare to launch clinical careers or take the next step in their educational journey, a select group will carry with them unique insights gained through work in underserved areas throughout Kentucky.
During the academic year, the School of Dentistry Outreach Scholars rotated to clinics in Henderson, Owensboro, Elizabethtown, Bowling Green, Paducah and Beverly. Fourth-year dental students Holly Bradford, Beth Bailey, Robbie Troehler and Cierra Sapp were selected for the competitive scholarships, based in part on their demonstrated community service.
Since September, the four have honed their general dentistry skills at dental offices operating within a variety of practice models. The clinics in Paducah and Henderson, for example, are operated by the Kentucky Area Health Education Centers program, while other clinics are non-profit, reduced-fee facilities providing general dentistry.
Sapp said her experience at the Red Bird Clinic in Beverly helped her build confidence and gave her a better understanding of life in private practice.
“During my time there, I performed emergency visits, extractions, restorative procedures, and completed many new patient exams. It was evident there is great dental need in rural Kentucky,” she said.
In addition to learning about clinical practice, the Outreach Scholar experience encourages students to continue giving back as they begin their own careers.
“It has been a blessing to work within the dental profession, and it is important for me to use my education to help fellow Kentuckians,” said Troehler of Ludlow, Kentucky.
In addition to the Outreach Scholar efforts, the UofL School of Dentistry has a long history of helping serve the people in the rural part of the state, having participated in multiple Remote Area Medical events in Pikeville, where students and faculty provided free dental care to hundreds during each event. The school also continues to build a presence in Beverly, having formalized a relationship with the Red Bird Clinic this year for student clinical rotation.