Dental Public Health Field Experience

Student Community Engagement Opportunities

PreDoctoral Programs

Training Philosophy: A 3-Tier Approach

SSBS offers a variety of opportunities for current Predoctoral students at CDM to engage in service for the underserved, from individual mentorship to group activities. At the initial level of engagement, Tier 1, students can participate in ongoing SSBS-sponsored programs, such as oral health screenings with low-income families in the community. At the second level of engagment, we provide opportunities for students to design, develop, and implement their own community engagement project. Finally, at the highest level of engagement, we offer one-to-one mentorship in research projects and student-designed community engagement initiatives.

Tier One Programs:

  • Columbia Head Start Oral Health Dental Screening Program: Volunteer dental students in their third and fourth year are trained to participate in early intervention oral health screenings with youth ages 0-6 in the community at local Head Start sites. Students screen for caries risk, engage with parents, and demonstrate proper oral hygiene habits.
  • Community Health Fair: Annual health fair where students volunteer to provide oral health screenings to members of the Washington Heights community.

Tier Two Programs:

  • Student Community Partnership Program (SCPP): In SSBS’ Student Community Partnership Program, student groups compete for funding for their proposed project addressing needs in the young child, adolescent, or older adult population through communication and coordination with the affiliated community organization. Some examples are listed below:
    • Lessons In A Lunch Box: Healthy Teeth Essentials and Facts about Snacks is an oral health literacy program designed to empower children and families with knowledge on good oral health, including routine dental care, oral health maintenance and good dietary choices.
    • Mentoring Our Future: Dental students teach 9th-12th grade students from the Lang Youth Medical Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital how to give oral hygiene instructions. These high school students will then, under supervision of CDM's dental students, lead a seminar at a local NYC WIC center on oral hygiene to low-income expectant mothers.
    • Chinatown Community Dental Education & Screenings: Dental students spend the morning giving a brief presentation (in English and in Chinese) educating members of the partnering group on oral hygiene. Students perform free oral diseases screening while also promoting oral cancer awareness.
Tier Three Programs:
  • Summer Medicaid Research Fellows (SMRFs): Summer research endeavor in which students volunteer to conduct a study on a topic at the intersection of pediatric oral health and Medicaid. Students receive individual mentorship with faculty devoted to socio-behavioral research design and conduct. Students also meet weekly as a group for peer discussion and to review the progress of each project.

PostDoctoral Programs

  • Bi-Annual Fall Convocations and Spring Symposiums: Every year, SSBS sponsors enriching lectures featuring outstanding speakers that address issues on the Future of Pediatric Dentistry, such as finance and delivery, working with underserved populations, the Affordable Care Act, etc. We offer Continuing Education credits for registered participants. 
  • Miles for Smiles: This annual community engagement event is a street festival desgined to create awareness of Early Childhood Caries in the community and to promote healthy oral hygiene habits. 
  • Remote Area Medical and Missions of Mercy: As part of our continued dedication to increasing access to care to underserved populations, our students, alumni, and affiliates attend a yearly pop-up dental clinic in a remote-access area. Our volunteers provide oral health screenings, education, and treatment to individuals and families who, for many reasons, lack access to dental care.