I am a dental hygienist and a student in a dental public health master’s program. I am currently writing a proposal to a community college to allow their dental hygiene students to participate in an outreach program as an extracurricular experience. I am looking for helpful information about how to address such a proposal to the school. Thank you!
Dental hygiene programs require a course in community health. As part of this class, dental hygiene students are often given opportunities to participate in community-based activities. Many dental hygiene programs (if not all) also require a Capstone type of project, which can be designed around a community-based project. My first question is why should the activity be extracurricular? In other words, creating an outreach program suitable to dental hygiene students may fit into (or meet the criteria) for their community health course and/or Capstone project. If it does need to be extracurricular, my first step would be to approach the dental hygiene program director as you would any other potential stakeholder and run the idea by him/her to see if it is feasible and fits into the mission of the program. I would imagine that the students would need faculty supervision (direct or indirect) and be limited by the dental practice laws of the state. You should emphasize what the benefit(s) of participation would be to the dental hygiene program/students, such as potential new patients. Other factors to consider:
- What percentage of dental students would be able to participate? First year or second year students?
- What would they be expected to do? Oral health promotion, screenings?
- Why is it essential to have dental hygiene students?
- How much time is necessary? A day, a week, few hours?
- Would the students have any ownership (ie, a say over the program content, flow, etc)?
- Would they be covered from a liability perspective if they participate in an extracurricular activities? Can they get extra credit or is it strictly volunteering?
- Who is the audience?
- Will it cost the program any money (transportation, faculty time, toothbrushes)?
- Will it leave the dental hygiene program with something to build on?
- Will it benefit the community it is designed for?