High school students took part in an immersive Dental Careers Exploration Camp last weekend at the University of New England. SUBMITTED PHOTO

High school students took part in an immersive Dental Careers Exploration Camp last weekend at the University of New England. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BIDDEFORD —A total of 26 high school students from across New England converged at the University of New England for an immersive Dental Careers Exploration Camp last weekend.

Designed for students who have expressed an interest in oral health professions, the camp helped expose students to a variety of career pathways in the field. Camp organizers hope that the event will inspire attendees to study dentistry and dental hygiene, eventually helping to alleviate the region’s shortage of oral health providers.
 
The students engaged in experiential dental activities in UNE’s state-of-the-art clinic, the Oral Health Center. They had the opportunity to prepare a tooth for restoration using a sophisticated dental simulation unit, learn how to take dental impressions, investigate digital crown technology via CEREC ceramic reconstruction and practice suturing using raw chicken breast, which mimics gum tissue.

On Monday, the final day of the program, the students job shadowed local dentists who volunteered to share their professional expertise.
 
The campers came from diverse backgrounds, with eight from HRSA designated Dental Professional Shortage Areas and eight living in designated rural areas. Participants included an aspiring dental student whose family was displaced by war in Iraq and a student whose need for oral surgery as a young child fueled her desire to become an oral surgeon.  
 
Faculty instructors at the camp included Lionel Vachon, D.D.S., associate clinical professor and group practice leader for the UNE College of Dental Medicine, and Jessica Gellar, clinical instructor for the UNE Dental Hygiene Program.

They were assisted by students in UNE’s Doctor of Dental Medicine and Dental Hygiene programs. Several undergraduate peer mentors also assisted in staffing the camp, including a 2011 camp alumna who is entering her second year at UNE’s dental school.
 
The camp is coordinated by Zoe Hull, M.P.H., program manager for UNE’s Maine AHEC Network.

“Maine AHEC Network’s mission is to alleviate health workforce shortages in rural and underserved areas of the state, and to create greater diversity in the health workforce,” Hull explained. “We are especially excited this year to be welcoming a cohort of students from rural areas and those who are underrepresented minorities. It’s our hope that these students will be inspired to not only pursue careers in oral health, but will go on to practice in their communities.”
 
The Dental Careers Exploration Camp has been held at UNE each summer since 2010. It is free of cost for the campers and their families thanks to generous donations from TD Bank Charitable Foundation and the Maine Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network.
 
To learn more about the UNE Dental Careers Exploration Camp, please contact Zoe Hull at 221-4463, or [email protected]
 
The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, an innovative educational community with two distinctive coastal Maine campuses, a vibrant new campus in Tangier, Morocco, and a robust offering of degree and certificate programs online. 

UNE is home to Maine’s only medical and dental schools—part of a comprehensive health education mission built on a pioneering interprofessional approach that includes pharmacy, nursing and an array of allied health professions.
 
UNE. Innovation for a Healthier Planet. Visit une.edu