NYU Dentistry Global Student Outreach
For dental students, an outreach trip might seem like a great way to observe and care for patients and get hands-on experience in the field. However, students can learn about so much more than dentistry when providing care to the underserved.
In this blog by Serena, a student in New York University’s College of Dentistry, she describes how her dental outreach trip to Nepal changes lives — not just her patients’, but her own life, too.
This fall, I went to Kathmandu, Nepal with the NYU Dentistry Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program where we provided free dental services at Srogsten Bhrikuti Boarding High School.
We performed a wide variety of services, including screenings, oral hygiene education, restorative dentistry, extractions, root canal therapy, and denture construction.
We also saw many pediatric patients from inside and outside of the school. Many of these children returned from previous years to be seen, allowing for continuity of the comprehensive care.
All my life I have had a strong passion for working with underserved communities.
In particular, those who lacked access to appropriate oral health care and education. It wasn’t until dental school that I first made a direct impact on communities like these.
Nepal was the first time I was able to use my skills directly and personally to educate an underserved population.
Although my clinical skills were still novice at the time, I was extremely grateful to use what skills and knowledge I had to make a direct impact on those who need something most of us take for granted daily: our oral health.
During my time there I was immersed in Nepal’s culture and people.
I was exposed to the reality that the people of Nepal face many disparities like social inequality, poverty, and a massive lack of accessible health care.
Visiting different medical facilities and speaking directly to the people in the communities, I was able to learn and understand the oral health situation and daily struggles of the community, even beyond health care.
It opened my eyes to the great need they have, and it touched me so deeply with how beautifully and simply they live their lives. I was inspired by their respect for one another and the compassion they carry in their hearts despite having so little in material goods and resources.
They reminded me how lucky I am to be able to learn a skill that can provide so much relief to others.
This experience showed me that in order to help others, you must learn to place yourself in their shoes. It was so important to open your heart and mind to be fully immersed in the culture — to face their daily challenges, to understand their dreams, to advocate for change, and to feel their love and their relationships.
When you know the little details about somebody, that is how you give the best care and affect change.
Even the smallest conscious actions can make some of the largest transformations.
My passion for bringing education, love, and care to the underprivileged — whether they are across the street or across the world — was ignited.
Now, I am working to initiate a monthly outreach project at the Ali Forney Center, a New York-based homeless shelter for LGBT Youth. Through this program, I hope to lift the spirits of these young people and motivate them to be proactively engaged in their own oral health. We hope to achieve this by giving monthly oral hygiene presentations, and we plan to extend our services to dental screenings.
All of the people I have met and treated in Nepal have touched my life and are locked in my heart. They continue to fuel the flame within me and encourage this dream of mine to dedicate my life to serve those around me.
Written by Serena Simone, third-year dental student at New York University College of Dentistry
The NYU Dentistry Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program is a partnership between NYU College of Dentistry, Henry Schein, Inc., local partners in the U.S., and global communities to provide oral health education, preventive services, sustainability, and treatment to underserved populations.