Travel with purpose

March 6th, 2014

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R&R will take the back burner this spring break for students on service-learning trips.

Forget the beach. Come March 15, these Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry students will step out of the college’s clinics and into different treatment locales throughout the Southwest and south of the border, all in the interest of learning and service. Some, like two pediatric dentistry residents, have already returned. Here’s a city-by-city look at the many locations where you’ll find TAMBCD’s presence this spring break.

Denver, Colo.

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Several third-year dental students will spend the week just north of the state’s capitol, each at a different public health dental clinic. There won’t be much relaxation in store for Mitch McKnight, Abigail Sellers, Mihir Patel and Fielfer Murga, who will treat patients Monday through Friday as part of their experience with the college’s preceptor program, designed to introduce up-and-coming graduates to the profession under the supervision of practicing dentists.

El Paso, Texas

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Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe is an institution in its own right. With a 40-year history in El Paso, several locations in this nationally recognized network of nonprofit community clinics are devoted to oral health care. Every summer, a dozen TAMBCD dental students spend two weeks at La Fe earning their preceptor credit. During spring break, D3s Armin Aliefendic and Scott Sheppard will get a condensed weeklong version, performing extractions, fillings and emergency office visit exams.

Omoa, Honduras
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Dr. Katie Egbert

For years, the graduate pediatric dentistry program has supported the oral health of children in Central America by sending residents on a service trip with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Dallas. Drs. Katie Egbert and Steven Hogan continued the tradition Feb. 19-26, when they provided cleanings, extractions, fillings and sealants for approximately 200 children and adults who have little to no access to dental care. Egbert and Hogan set up shop in a church along with the 22 other volunteers that included several dentists and physicians. In all, approximately 2,000 patients received medical and dental care throughout the week.

San Raymundo, Guatemala

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Spring break 2014 marks the third year Dallas dentist Dr. T. Bob Davis has organized a dental mission trip to this town on the outskirts of Guatemala City. The semi-new venture comes on the heels of more than 30 years of dental mission trips to northern Mexico and Central America, so at this point the opportunity comes to dental students via word-of-mouth. This year, a total of 60 volunteers — 11 of which are TAMBCD students — will spend the week at a compound housing a school and hospital, which will be transformed into temporary operatories to provide cleanings, sealants and extractions to 700 elementary and middle schoolers.

—Jenny Fuentes

— Jennifer Fuentes