Kim Engols, a third-year dental student and workgroup leader at the University of Colorado(CU) School of Dental Medicine sees volunteering as an opportunity to give back to the community. She became involved with the DAWN – Dedicated to Aurora’s Wellness and Needs – Clinic in Aurora, Colorado about a year ago. The DAWN Clinic is a student-run clinic that provides treatment for residents in the community. Students from every graduate program including primary care and specialty care participate by volunteering at the clinic.
Kim and her leadership partner Emily Malihi, also a student at CU School of Dental Medicine, help pre-screen dental patients at the clinic one night a week. Beginning with basic head and neck exams and then dental exams, patients who need more comprehensive treatment are referred to Dental Lifeline Network’s (DLN) Dental HouseCalls program. The Dental HouseCalls mobile dental van visits the DAWN Clinic one day a month to complete free dental treatment for the patients referred from the dental school.
“We started realizing that patients didn’t have access or couldn’t afford care, that’s when our partnership with DLN began,” Kim said.
A student volunteer at the clinic knew someone in need of dental treatment, her mother. The students at CU School of Dental Medicine were able to determine a treatment plan for her at the DAWN Clinic and through the Dental HouseCalls program, the student’s mother was able to receive complete dental treatment.
“It was so cool to see her come in and finish treatment and take her out of pain. It promotes and gives dentistry a positive image within the community,” Kim said.
This is one of several pilot projects DLN launched this year to introduce dental students to DLN and volunteering in the community. The DAWN Clinic is a unique opportunity for students to see the treatment plans they create come full-circle and the importance of helping the underserved populations.
“I have always been passionate about getting involved. There are some great avenues to give back. Working with the DAWN Clinic and DLN has been an awesome way to show me how I can give back to the community,” Kim said.