Training and Education Programs

HVO website on a tablet

The other type of project focuses on training and education, which emphasize the concept of capacity building for the region served. Capacity building involves leaving local people in a region stronger and more capable of treating their own populations after a volunteer has returned home. Only a few volunteer organizations concentrate in this area. The Oral Health Initiative programs of  Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), a Washington, D.C.-based private nonprofit volunteer organization, are sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA). The HVO website ( has useful information for all volunteers, not just those working with HVO.

Health Volunteers Overseas

Health Volunteers Overseas, founded in 1986, is a private nonprofit organization committed to improving health care in developing countries through training and education of local health care workers. By emphasizing teaching, HVO education programs aim to create an indigenous group of trained health workers who can teach others so there is an ongoing capability that will benefit the population long after volunteers have departed. HVO currently delivers educational programming in a wide variety of areas, including an Oral Health Initiative, which incorporates general dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, as well as public health. Programs vary according to the needs of the country and the educational priorities identified. Certain principles, though, apply to all programs:

Training is focused on local diseases and health conditions; Practices, procedures, and skills are relevant and realistic, and include, when appropriate, a focus on prevention; Programs promote lifelong learning.. Whenever possible, programs focus on training local personnel who will assume the roles of both educator and provider. Programs focus on relevant preventive and clinical techniques that can be taught, learned, and practiced by the appropriate level of health care provider.

Are you new to volunteering with HVO or are you early in your career as a dentist? The ADA Foundation has funded a fellowship just for you. Qualified dentists (a dentist who is a first time HVO volunteer and/or a dentist who graduated from dental school within the last five years) can receive funding up to $1,500 to defray some of their travel related expenses to volunteer at an HVO oral health program site. Visit the HVO fellowship and funding webpage to learn more and apply for the HVO-ADA Foundation Volunteer Fellowship.