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Indiana University Student Outreach Clinic aids low-income community members

December 10, 2018

By Matt Carey

Photo of IU dental students
Exam time: Third-year student provider Magy Mckary and second-year student assistant Jenny Mai examine a patient at the IU Student Outreach Clinic in Indianapolis.
Bloomington, Ind. — Aspiring dentists in Indiana have been giving back.

Since 2009, students from the Indiana University School of Dentistry have run the Student Outreach Clinic that provides free care in eastern Indianapolis. The clinic is open two Saturdays a month for six hours. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. Services offered include panoramic X-rays, composite resin restorations and extractions. Depending on the amount of grant funding provided, the clinic can also perform root canal procedures and dentures.

Patients are also provided with access to check-ups outside of dental work provided by the IU School of Medicine, financial planning aid from the School of Social Work and legal services from the School of Law.

Day-to-day operations of the dentistry clinic are run by 18 student-elected board members. Students in their first or second year act as direct assistants to upperclassmen. The clinic has two volunteer faculty members at every session to oversee the procedures. On average, there are about 20 patient visits per session.

According to Andrew Bartel, a fourth-year student and volunteer at the clinic, the next step is setting up a permanent location in east Indianapolis that will allow them to expand to a four chair dental clinic. In a partnership with the IU School of Medicine, School of Social Work and Butler School of Pharmacy, the Student Outreach Clinic purchased a storefront on the street level of an apartment building in Indianapolis. The project began in the summer of 2017.

For the dental students, the clinic has provided great training for their future work.

"I have a great interest in public health so right now I'm working on my master's degree in public health as well," said Mr. Bartel. "I will finish that in 2020. My hope is to move to Kenya and develop dental clinics that would work with hospitals."

"My experience is twofold: I'm from the area so it's cool to provide a free service," said Sam Patterson, a second-year student and board member. "As a student, you don't get as much clinic exposure as you want during school, and it's cool to see that in the clinic and be able to assist when your opportunities are rare through the program."