Management of Experiences in Community-Based Dental Education

Community service-learning rotations at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry are a model for community-based dental education (CBDE); upon completing rotations, seniors can handle four to seven patients per day.

UIC began its community-based service learning program in 2008. During the 2008-2009 school year, 12 students alternated, every two weeks, between community sites and clinical practice at the college. By the 2011-2012 academic year, all 64 senior students will make rotations in community dental clinics.

From this special issue of the Journal of Dental Education featuring the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Dental Pipeline program, this chapter describes student experiences and the implementation of community-based service-learning at UIC.

Key Findings:

  • As a result of community rotations, dental students become more efficient in providing oral health services; when students return from community rotations, improved efficiency in treating patients can offset revenue lost as a result of the student’s absence.
  • At the annual “Spring Fest” senior students setup information booths. Each booth represents a community site. Third-year students, preparing for community rotations, circulate among the booths, asking seniors about each site.
  • Before developing its community-based service-learning curriculum, many UIC faculty members believed that community clinics provided inferior care and were poorly maintained. Implementing the program dispelled these false assumptions

Students in the UIC community service-learning program progress from orientation to direct supervision to indirect supervision under a preceptor. From the special issue on the Pipeline, Profession, and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program, this chapter discusses student experiences and the implementation of CBDE at UIC.