Consider a Summer Outreach Program for Pre-Dental and Dental Students

December 19, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

A summer outreach program is a great opportunity for both pre-dental and dental students to gain experience and learn more about the professional. Outreach programs are often run by colleges and dental schools. They involve participation in various dental health community programs.

Many outreach programs are in communities, which are underserved. Individuals in these communities may not have dental insurance or be able to pay for dental care. Students have the chance to make a difference in their own communities.

Although outreach programs may also be offered at different times during the school year, the summer is a great time to get involved. Examples of outreach programs may include providing dental exams at free dental clinics, oral health education to children or distribution of supplies, such as toothbrushes and dental floss.

Responsibilities may vary based on whether you are a pre-dental student or are already in dental school. Undergrad pre-dental students are still able to get involved with education.

Dental students may have additional responsibilities, such as teeth cleaning or exams. In some cases, pre-dental outreach programs may also involve additional community service, which does not center on dental health. For example, some outreach programs may also include volunteering to assist with blood drives or visiting seniors.

Students gear up for observation in the surgery department Benefits of a Summer Outreach Program

Whether you are a pre-dental student or in dental school, there are many benefits to getting involved in a community outreach program. For instance, it is a chance to learn more about the profession, which may help you decide if dentistry is the right choice. Participation in a summer outreach program also boosts your qualifications if you decide to apply to dental school.

It can also be a way to connect with other pre-dental students and network with others in the field. You may also meet dentists in your community, which may be helpful when you are looking for an internship or shadowing experience. 

If you are in dental school, an outreach program can provide you with additional and varied experience dealing with patients. It is also beneficial to learn about public dental health services and what options are available once you graduate from dental school. Working in the community also provides a nice change of pace from working in the school dental lab.

If you are interested in spending your summer doing community service, there are a few ways to locate dental outreach programs. Start by speaking to an academic advisor at your school.

An advisor may have a list of community programs in your area. Pre-dental clubs may also have information on summer outreach programs. If you are open to traveling to another city, state or country, you may have even more options.

Many programs have an application process, which involves a background check and fingerprint clearance. You may also have to go through an interview. Programs length varies, but many summer outreach programs are five or six weeks. If you are traveling to another state or country, be sure to get the details on housing and travel expenses before you commit to the program.