Filling a need
About a year ago, Dr. Amal Noureldin, Muslim Student Dental Association adviser, noticed that recruiting volunteers for health fairs at Islamic community centers was becoming a bit of a challenge. While MSDA members were dedicated, pulling from such a small pool of students — 10 at best — was difficult. And approximately 10 student volunteers were needed for each of the fairs, organized several weekends a year by the American Muslim Women Physicians Association and catering to more than 100 patients at each event.
So Noureldin, an assistant professor in public health sciences, sought help from her department.
While public health sciences has provided MSDA equipment, materials and transportation for the health fairs from day one, it ramped up support in efforts to better serve this patient population. Now the department coordinates student volunteers, and any willing D3 or D4 can fill the slots in addition to MSDA members.
This ensures there are always enough student volunteers to staff each event so that Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry serves as a constant partner to AMWPA.
“It has helped a lot with the sealants and fluoride placement,” says Dr. Rehana Kausar, an anesthesiologist and president of AMWPA’s board of directors. “With the adults it has helped a lot too, so volunteers can recommend if they need any cleanings, fillings or treatment.”
Screenings, sealant placement and fluoride varnishes are not all that TAMBCD provides. The fairs also give students a prime opportunity to share oral health care tips and provide referrals.
“Patients come in and say, ‘I have this in my mouth, where should I go?’” says Noureldin. “Some of them think they will have treatment on the spot.”
Most of them don’t have dental insurance, she adds, and they don’t seek advice until a problem comes to the surface.
“This talk that we provide them is a really, really big thing. We might think it’s just a tooth talk, but they might not find dentists during their day to tell them what to do,” says Noureldin, who notes patients’ appreciation for learning about resources at community centers and the dental school.
Demand for the college’s outreach services is growing. A Sikh temple is next on the list.
“Whatever place we need to go, we just go,” says Noureldin.
What’s next in 2013 for AMWPA and TAMBCD:
October 6: Dar El-Eman Islamic Center in Arlington (all day)
November 16: Islamic Center of Irving (all day)