An essential part of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s mission is to “care for the underserved and lead the nation in community based service learning and education.” The Office of Extramural Clinical Practices oversees the operations of the school’s community service learning centers (CSLCs) throughout North Carolina and insures that the school’s innovative model meets reality in underserved communities.
The first three years of the dental student’s educational life at the ECU is directed toward becoming a well prepared general dentist, who will most capably deliver dental care and serve in rural and underserved communities. During their fourth year, students complete their educational and clinical requirements at CSLCs by providing patient care, learning practice management skills, developing cultural competence, understanding components of public health in rural communities, completing community service projects, and experiencing life in a rural setting. These unique experiences ease the transition from dental school—where the primary focus is education and training—to the patient-centered practice setting.
Our CSLCs are 7,700 square foot, 16-chair operatory, state-of-the-art community based dental service facilities. Each CSLC is directed by a faculty dentist and employs a business manager, front desk personnel, dental assistants, dental hygienists, Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) residents and fourth-year dental students. Support is provided to the students, residents and patients by a variety of community specialists.
Each CSLC is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and constructed to serve a diverse patient population in a general dentistry setting. Each CSLC has a special needs operatory where wheel chair bound patients may be treated in a special needs room equipped with wheelchair lift. Each community service learning center utilizes digital and 3D imaging and has an endodontic microscope available for student and faculty practice use.
The impetus of this department is directed toward providing our residents and students with an effective community based dental education program that will provide a unique opportunity to complete their clinical requirements as a fourth-year student or general dentistry resident and to experience life in rural underserved settings across the state in CSLCs from Sylva in the west to Elizabeth City in the east.
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