Dental hygiene students at Georgia Highlands College are taking their learning beyond the classroom and into the community through service learning initiatives. These opportunities help students gain hands-on experience in the field while also promoting oral health.
“Community service opportunities give us a chance to give back and to gain perspective about the oral health needs in our community which often go unnoticed,” said dental hygiene student Hailey Sosa.
In August, students participated in the 18th Annual Health Initiative for Men and Women (HIM+) health fair. Held each year at the Floyd County Health Department, the fair is sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Northwest Georgia and the Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition. GHC students provided oral cancer screening and toothbrushes to approximately 400 attendees this year.
Students continued their community service at the inaugural Live Healthy Chattooga County Health Fair in September. At this fair, Chattooga County residents received multiple free health screenings, including an oral cancer screening from GHC dental hygiene students. Students also provided general oral health education and toothbrushes.
Additionally, the program hosts the Free Dental Clinic of Rome one night each month. Through this event, dental hygiene students and faculty open the GHC dental hygiene clinic to provide oral health screenings and dental cleanings for the community.
Other service learning initiatives include regular visits to Harbin Clinic Cancer Center and annual participation in the Floyd County Teen Maze, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance and BLESS Weekend at the Allatoona Resource Center.
“Our students’ efforts make a difference to the community,” said Regina Gupta, dental hygiene program director. “We hope that when students graduate, they carry with them the desire to volunteer in similar community oral health initiatives.”
For more information on GHC’s dental hygiene program, visit highlands.edu/dental