The College of Dentistry (COD) aims to prepare an oral health care workforce, competent and committed to addressing oral health needs of vulnerable and underserved populations and to play its part in eliminating health disparities. Therefore, Service Learning curriculum is integrated throughout all four years of dental school. It is a progressive curriculum, including didactic components of education as well as introducing students to a variety of community based, hands-on experiences outside of the College. We believe the acquired learning, as well as services provided, are equally and mutually beneficial to both our dental students and community members.
To better prepare dental students for careers in diverse settings, as well as to encourage their interest in working with the underserved populations, the College has partnered with organizations in the Chicagoland area, throughout Illinois and Colorado, and internationally including Guatemala, China and Tanzania.
Over the first three years at the COD, students are introduced to issues contributing to health disparities in this country, thereby impacting a person's oral health status. Dental students visit local communities and community organizations in order to learn about such issues first-hand, provide oral health education in elementary schools, and engage in a variety of volunteer opportunities. These experiences lend themselves to explore the following topics:
- health education,
- access to health care,
- social determinants of health,
- risk factors, and
- literacy, language, & culture.
The COD engages all fourth year students in service-learning experiences in community-based clinics as part of a required 15-credit course. Students engage in community-based education and service-learning rotations for a minimum of 50 days. During this time, they will provide care to the underserved urban, rural, and special needs populations including children, developmentally disabled, HIV positive and geriatrics patients. For information on these clinic partner sites, please visit our Partnerships page.
For more information on Community-Based Education, please contact Ms. Khatija Noorullah at (312) 355-4549 or Kari Radjewski at (312) 355-4598.