Written by: Kendra Kleppe, graduate student, Old Dominion University’s School of Dental Hygiene
From the field: Leon, Nicaragua
Yesterday morning Tara and I presented our final lectures to a large audience consisting of dental faculty, students, and local practicing dentists that work in the community and with the Ministry of Health. Tara’s lecture topic was about malaria and the oral manifestations of this disease and how a dentist and/or dental hygienist can help in the diagnosis in this disease. The audience was very interested in this as it is a disease that affects Nicaragua. The information on the oral manifestations was new to some of the audience and initiated some good questions from.
My two lectures were about oral-systemic health links and the concept of a dental team/practice management. One of the faculty stated he appreciated the information on the oral and systemic health connection, especially concerning cancer. The local practicing dentists appreciated the information on the dental team and practice management. I was able to highlight the difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist, and especially that a dental hygienist can increase productivity and revenue within a dental practice. The dental team is a new concept in Nicaragua and the addition of the dental assistant program at the university and the future dental hygiene program will help support this endeavor.
This morning Tara and I met with Dr. Altamirano , dental school faculty, Tania Rodriguez and Josue Mungia (dental students) at UNAN. The dean and faculty expressed their gratitude and happiness with the work we have done including the dental assisting/dental hygiene curriculums, lectures, and our involvement with the students and faculty. They are positive and hopeful about the future addition of a dental hygiene program and are committed to our partnership. They plan to make this program known to future students at the university. They presented each of us a certificate of appreciation for our work and a wonderful UNAN-Leon faculty shirt!!
Tara and I with Dr. Altamirano
We can’t wait to wear it back in the states! I expressed my gratitude to the dean and the faculty for their hospitality and work on this project. Personally it has been a truly meaningful experience that I will never forget!!