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The Humanitarian Side of Dental Residencies and Fellowships

Doing humanitarian work doesn’t have to mean working abroad. You can join a group of learned people who work together as peers in the pursuit of mutual dental knowledge or practice, become a visiting professor, postdoctoral researcher or a doctoral researcher practically anywhere in the world. However, travelling to another country to extend your skills and knowledge to people in poorer countries is also a noble pursuit and may certainly be a rewarding and beneficial experience for all involved.

The Lutheran Medical Center’s  (LMC) Department of Dental Medicine journal recently published a document on Global Postdoctoral Dental Residency Programs. Dr. Valerie Peckosh wrote about the value of residency training and actual chair side experience to prepare you for your future career in clinical dentistry. When she began working on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota as a general dentist, where the infant mortality rate is five times the national average, she realized she wasn’t equipped to deal with the work. She took a Pediatric Residency with LMC Dental, and is very glad she did.

The mission of LMC Department of Dental Medicine is to deliver exceptional oral health care to the world’s neediest citizens and the most underserved communities.

Dr. Le is Dental Director of Asian Health Services Dental Clinic in Oakland, California. She says, ““I would always encourage all students to take on at least one year of additional training postgraduate level. They will benefit greatly from valuable clinical experience that they will not get anywhere else, even compared to one year of private practice.” (http://lmcdental.org/Media/Default/Downloads/the-bridge-issue-2-2014.pdf)

Research by Aziz, Ziccardi and Chuang (2012) published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and done to assess the value of physicians (including dentists) who participated in humanitarian missions’ residency training and future career choices unearthed some interesting results.  All respondents reported that participation in a humanitarian mission during residency was a positive part of their training and the missions allowed them to develop as surgeons. They also believed their awareness of global health care and cultural competence improved. During the research it was concluded that participation in a humanitarian mission should be considered a required part of residency training.

So who’s out there doing the work? Dr. Kenneth Reed is a proficient pilot and humble humanitarian who regularly travels to the El Rosario area of Mexico with Flying Samaritans Arizona, a nonsectarian, volunteer organization dedicated to providing free medical and dental care to residents in remote regions of Mexico. He earned a DMD degree, a Master’s in Pharmacology, then received advanced training in anesthesia. He later completed a residency in periodontology. His achievements and credentials now fill up a 11-page curriculum vitae with honors, appointments, research and publications. What a career!

So where can you do a Dental Residency or Fellowship? The Medical University of South Carolina offers a Pediatric Dentistry Residency at their Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. Their mission includes promoting the scientific and humanitarian practice of pediatric dentistry. It’s a two-year Postdoctoral Program designed to offer a balanced clinical and didactic curriculum in advanced infant, child and adolescent dental care.

Statements of Excellence for Residency Positions in Dentistry

Both Dental School and residency positions are highly competitive and you will need an excellent statement in order to stand out from the crowd.

I have nearly 20 years of experience at presenting you as effectively as possible on paper for your application to dental school or a residency/fellowship position. The eloquent and thoughtful statement that I draft on your behalf will cause the admissions committee members to become curious about you, the kind of applicant that they look forward to meeting. I will take full advantage of all of your strengths, the languages that you speak and the places where you have lived or visited, along with your unique professional and volunteer experiences. I encourage you to get started on this process as soon as possible so that you are prepared for success. As soon as you fill out my Online Interview Form, I will let you know what additional questions I have so that I have all of the information that I need in order to make your statement as effective as possible.

What about doing a residency in Singapore? Eastern Europe? Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland remain the best destinations for both dentistry study and treatment abroad because most faculties of Dentistry offer graduate programs, according to medicalstudyguide.com. Contact each university separately.

In Spain, they run an 11-month, full-time clinical residency in pediatric dentistry which they claim covers all the most important, practical and useful topics in the field, at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya. Check out uic.es for more information.

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