What happens when you bring together two Dental Hygiene faculty, three Dental Hygiene students, and three Occupational Therapy (OT) students?
You get a service trip focused on interprofessional health care, and lots of smiles in Great Harbour Cay!
Interprofessional Health Care
Over winter break, dental hygiene faculty and students from Tunxis Community College and occupational therapy students from Quinnipiac University came together to provide health care on a family island of the Bahamas. Interprofessional health care emphasizes a patient-focused approach to health care, and encourages health providers of different backgrounds — like dentistry and OT — to collaborate. By working together, we were able to treat and teach about oral health care as it relates to overall health.
The purpose of our interprofessional service learning project was to take action through partnership, and support an underserved community with health and hygiene care. As health care providers, we came together across functions — along with nonprofit organizations and community support — and we were able to provide aid, experience life in a community different from our own, and partner with families from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Ripples of Hope
For our accommodations, transportation on the island, and cultural experiences, we worked with the nonprofit Ripples of Hope. Our dental hygiene & OT team augmented and reinforced Ripples of Hope’s “Healthy Lifestyles Program” for children of R.N. Gomez All-Ages School. The program aims to build a self-sustaining model for health by ensuring children can drink clean water daily, maintain a healthy diet with fresh produce, and engage in regular physical fitness.
In Great Harbour Cay, there is limited health care and lack of dental resources available. During our trip, 149 students participated in our oral health and nutritional education, oral screening, and fluoride varnish application. We also applied 355 sealants to teeth during this week!
We reinforced the Healthy Lifestyles Program to the children with education and activities about nutrition and healthy eating. We taught them why these are important for a healthy body and a healthy smile! For many children on the island it was a new experience for preventive oral health rather than emergency treatment for dental pain.
The interprofessional service learning trip enabled the Tunxis and Quinnipiac students to achieve personal, professional growth, and cultural understanding. The R.N. Gomez All-Ages School has extended to continue this partnership into the 2016-2017 academic year.