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ECU Dental School Invites Prospective Students to Intensive Introduction to Dentistry | Information Services

Although Sambudha “Sam” Abendschein always wanted to become a dentist, one thing he lacked was an in-depth, practical perspective on the essence of dental studies.

ECU Dentistry faculty member Dr. Roopsi Kaur works with a Preparing Tomorrow’s Dentists participant in the college’s simulation lab. (Photos: Tarrick Cox)

In early June, she had the opportunity to experience the entire journey firsthand, from the application process to the hands-on experience, during the Preparing Tomorrow’s Dentists (PTD) summer preparation program at East Carolina University School of Dentistry.

The annual event is divided into two three-day sessions for high school, college and postgraduate students who meet with current students, residents, faculty, staff and administrators and gain a thorough knowledge and understanding of what dental school is all about.

This year the school hosted 49 PTD participants during both June sessions.

Abendschein, a dental hygienist from Fayetteville, learned about the program through her job as vice president of the Pre-Dental Club at Methodist University. She applied, was accepted, and feels she is one step closer to dental school after completing the program.

“It was an amazing and wonderful experience,” she said. “It gave me all the information I needed to start processing what dental school was going to be like. One of the best things was that I could ask a lot of questions and everyone was so patient with me and answering them. It really helped me feel stronger about ECU.”

The School of Dental Medicine established the PTD program in 2013 in partnership with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the Old North State Dental Society. Initially funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as the American Dental Education Association Pipeline Program, the PTD is designed to expand efforts to increase student awareness of the dental profession and ultimately increase the number of students seeking to pursue careers in dentistry in North Carolina. The PTD program provides a pathway for future dentists who intend to serve patients from underrepresented or underserved populations throughout North Carolina, consistent with the mission of the School of Dental Medicine.

The program includes a review of the first year of dental studies, hands-on laboratory experiences, opportunities to interact with dental students in a clinical setting, seminars on time management and test-taking skills, a review of personal statements, and more.

“We are thrilled to once again host two sessions of our Preparing Tomorrow’s Dentists program, which provides students interested in dentistry with the opportunity to explore the profession,” said Tarrick Cox, director of admissions for the dental school. “Participants had the opportunity to get hands-on experience in our simulation lab and get a closer look at nearly every aspect of dental school. We hope this experience will give them the solid foundation they need to pursue dentistry as a future career.”

A dentistry student demonstrates a practical exercise to participants in the Preparing Dentists of the Future program during a session in the school’s simulation lab.

Caroline Lostetter and Abigail Lewis have sisters who are current or future ECU dental students. Both decided to attend PTD to see what aspects of the ECU School of Dental Medicine would appeal to their siblings.

Lostetter said she believes the school’s mission of preparing dental leaders for work in North Carolina aligns with her values ​​and professional goals.

“It’s been good for me,” she said. “The program has taught me a lot about ECU, and meeting faculty and other people who have had an impact on the school have been the best parts.”

Lewis said her sister, who is a fourth-year dentistry student at ECU, shared her experiences with her, both in classroom teaching and in caring for patients, which also instilled in Lewis a love of the profession.

“It gave me so much information beyond what my sister had told me,” she said. “Seeing him put on a white coat and start taking care of patients is really exciting.”

Postgraduate student Brittani Strickland of Winston-Salem was all smiles as she talked about her experiences on the last day of PTD.

“The access to students was invaluable,” she said, “being able to ask them questions, explore their journeys, and hear their insights and advice. All of that experience and the transparency you get here is something you can’t get just anywhere.”


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