Gaining Perspective Through Practice
We do much more than teach and train talented and qualified practitioners; we prepare them for the world they will be treating. Our Dentistry in Service to Communities (DISC) program is the keystone of that understanding. DISC, one of the nation’s first service-learning programs, is a required component of our school curriculum and a model for other dental schools. DDS students serve in community clinical rotations that expose them to the oral health needs of diverse populations. Its impact is twofold: Our students gain a more holistic understanding of patients and their needs, and North Carolina’s community-based clinics benefit from the free assistance of talented students.
During her DISC rotation, Dr. Laura Hobbs, DDS ’17, had a profoundly moving experience in the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. One particular patient remains vivid in Dr. Hobbs’ mind.
A young woman needed a premolar extracted, and — realizing how visible the empty socket would be — broke down in tears. “I will never forget what a sensitive discussion that was, and how much the truth hurt her,” Dr. Hobbs said. The experience opened her to the real-world application of lessons she had only read about and heard about in class. Programs such as DISC need your support to continue preparing students for the diversity of real-world patients’ needs.
“DISC rotations increased my definition of compassion in every possible way. While I had previously thought that there were two types of patients — those who cared about their oral health and those who did not — my experience
in the DISC rotation proved that this dichotomy is often not so polarizing,” Dr. Hobbs said. “I now understand how important it is to accept each patient’s history, and appreciate their interest in their oral health in the moment, and embrace your future together.”