Bright is now in his 4th year at the UK College of Dentistry and coordinator of the Saturday Morning Clinic (SMC) program.
"It was an experience I will never forget and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it," Bright said. "My first goal at UK was to get involved with the SMC and since then I have never missed a clinic date."
Bright remembers one clinic in particular when a family came in late just as the clinic was about to close.
"The father spoke very little English but you could tell he really wanted to have his two boys seen by a dentist. Even though it was nearly time to close the clinic, all of the volunteers greeted the boys with open arms. That is one of the great things about the SMC."
UK College of Dentistry's SMC program was created by student dentists in the College of Dentistry as an opportunity to serve their community and has been in existence for more than 30 years. This program annually provides free oral health education and dental treatment to around 240 disadvantaged children between the ages of 4 and 12 who might not receive care otherwise. The clinic is held six times a year and staffed by student and faculty volunteers as well as two to three paid clinical staff members. The college covers the costs of the procedures, supplies, and staff.
Dr. Enrique Bimstein, professor and Division Chief of Pediatric Dentistry at UK, serves as a faculty advisor at the SMC and says that the program benefits their patients, but also the students who gain experience and competence.
"When you see a child in pain and you are able to alleviate that pain and contribute to the oral health, development, and intellect of the child, is very rewarding," Bimstein said. "It is also rewarding to teach and help the students to become the best they can be. There is a real lack of egoism. They are ready to give of themselves to others."
R.J. Ochsner, a 2013 graduate of the College of Dentistry, said his entire view of dentistry was formed, in part, by his participation in the Saturday Morning Clinics.
"I think it is so important to the experience of helping others, to be able to give care to children who otherwise might not have access to care. I think SMC has made me not just a better dentist, but a better person," he said.
The 2013-14 SMC program is set to kick-off this Saturday, Sept. 28. Patients should go to the first floor lobby of the Dental Sciences Building, adjacent to UK Chandler Hospital, Pavilion H, at 8:30 a.m to register. The clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon.
Other SMC dates are: Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Jan. 25, Feb. 8, and March 8. For more information, call 859-323-6525.
Any student interested in shadowing or volunteering for the SMC program may contact Becky Sauer in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs at the UK College of Dentistry at 859-323-6071.
Information provided by Ann Blackford
Photo provided by the University of Kentucky Public Relations
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