Pre-Dental and Dental Student Volunteer Opportunities

28 Feb

Pre-Dental and Dental Student Volunteer Opportunities

Both pre-dental and dental students can benefit from volunteering. It allows them to acquire new skills and to help people at the same time. Even though you are volunteering when you help others, it is also possible to benefit from the experience. Volunteer work offers you the opportunity to meet people in an area that is culturally diverse. There are many opportunities and benefits associated with volunteering either in America or throughout the world.

The benefits of dental student volunteering

Regardless of whether you are a pre-dental student or a dental student, there are many reasons to think about volunteering. As an example, pre-dental students can volunteer in order to learn more about the dental field and to be exposed to various specialties. It provides an opportunity to observe different types of dental procedures and to discuss your future with dental professionals.

Dental schools will take the volunteer work you have done into consideration when students are being selected. When you have a volunteer experience on your dental school application, it can provide positive benefits.

There are many other reasons why volunteering as a dental or pre-dental student can be of benefit. For one, volunteer work provides an opportunity to contribute to something worthwhile while also honing your skills. Those skills include more than the dental work and include teamwork and communication.

When you volunteer, it also gives students the opportunity to break out of their day to day activities. This is especially true if international volunteering is considered. When you do so, you can connect with many others in diverse cultures.

When you team up with an organization as a volunteer, they provide you with valuable experience of what can be done outside of the dental office.

Volunteering opportunities

It may take some research to find the proper volunteer opportunity for you but it is important to consider the options so that you can make the best choice. Some of the areas where you may consider volunteering include the American student dental Association as well as the American Dental Association.

College professors or your college advisers can also be asked if they are aware of volunteer opportunities. If you contact local dentist and let them know you are a student who is considering volunteering, they may be able to help as well. You should also consider the following, as it can help to broaden your horizons.

Local volunteering: it may be possible to volunteer locally and you could do some time at a mobile dental unit or free dental clinic. Many of those free clinics don’t have the budget to hire additional dentists but they would be happy to have dental students help. The duties you would be responsible for may be quite diverse and could include stocking supplies, writing down medical histories or talking to patients about dental care.

Local volunteering can be just as important for health and wellness as international missions.  For example, one Jacksonville, FL based dentist on San Jose Blvd regularly volunteers at Sulzbacher Center in his own city. Through the center, he is able to offer dental care to many homeless individuals who wouldn’t have access otherwise.  He said he knows he’s making a difference in each patient that is able to receive free dental care they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Give Kids a Smile: The American Dental Association started this program to provide dental services for children who may be lacking in that area. The program was initiated in 2003 as a one-day affair. Since that time, it has grown to include multiple events year round. You may find that there are opportunities for students in this program.

International Smile Power: This nonprofit agency offers dental care to people around the world in a variety of countries who may not have access to dental care. Along with providing dental services around the world, they also offer programs for children in the United States in Seattle, Washington. Dental professionals and those who do not yet have dental experience can volunteer with International Smile Power. The organization will provide volunteer teams to overseas areas such as Mexico and Haiti. The responsibilities of volunteers may vary depending upon your experience and education. You may be responsible for helping people with their dental hygiene or understanding preventative care. If you are a student that is willing to travel internationally, International Smile Power may be a good choice.

United Planet: There are many volunteer opportunities in this program for students who are studying health care, including those who are in a dentistry program. Dental volunteers travel in teams to Ghana, Peru, and other countries. The length of time that you volunteer can vary from 1-12 weeks. A variety of duties may be considered including teeth cleaning or oral healthcare education.

Additional Considerations

A number of things should be kept in mind when choosing the volunteer work that you plan on doing. Considering when you will do the volunteer work is important. In some cases, students will do a number of volunteer jobs of shorter duration through their undergraduate years. Others may volunteer for a longer program that could last for several months. It may be possible to volunteer for an entire year after a bachelors degree has been earned and prior to the time that you enter dental school. When you volunteer during summer break, it can also be beneficial. Choosing the best time to volunteer may help you in moving forward.

How much time is available for volunteering? There may be a commitment by some programs for hours or weeks. As an example, a full-time commitment may be required by certain volunteer opportunities for a number of weeks but others can be done in just a few hours per month. Think about how much time you spend on school-related and extracurricular activities. Consider the amount of time you have for volunteering carefully.

Have you carefully consider your goals? Is your volunteering to give back to the greater good or to look good on your resume? Do you want to gain experience with new patients or with a new culture? When you think about what is possible for you when you volunteer, it can help you in choosing the program.

Do you want to volunteer locally or internationally? Some programs offer a diversity of location opportunities. If you do plan on traveling abroad to volunteer, be sure that your health and safety are well cared for. As an example, it may be necessary to have immunizations prior to traveling to certain countries.

Before you start with any volunteer agency, be well aware of what type of work is being done. When communication is part of the process from the start, it will help to avoid misunderstandings later in the assignment.