TeamSMILE is the nation’s premier advocacy group that partners oral health professionals with professional athletic organizations to provide life-changing dental care to under-served children in our communities. By partnering with professional sports organizations, we create an experience that develops bonds between children’s organizations, oral health professionals, surrounding communities, and the athletes that solidify the message that oral health care is vitally important to long-term health. Through this experience, children receive free oral health education, screening, treatment, and are taught that the mouth and body are linked for overall health.
The 4 threads of student voice were addressed in the following ways:
Content – We were able to work along side professionals in a fast paced environment and were able to do a lot of the things we learned, sometimes even with different technologies or tools. Was an excellent experience to be able to prove our knowledge in practice and with patients and professionals of what we have learned during our time here in our Dental program. We also learned a few things we hadn’t done before and it felt good to be able to learn quickly because of our background knowledge in the field.
Culture – We learned that there are so many different cultures and languages different some communities. Realized it would be a good idea to learn some Spanish words, specific to the dental field and patient care. One student discussed that she was not fluent in English until 2nd grade and was always very anxious when going to a dentist or doctor and underscored the importance of being able to communicate with patients to make them feel more comfortable.
Social Emotional — I had to learn quickly to cope with frustration and the fast pace. It worked well, but with the fast pace there were moments when it could get tense. I also had to learn how to help patients relax, some were scared and I really enjoyed being able to help them feel less anxious. I realized I was able to adapt quickly to instructions, it was the first time we have ever done that particular type of x-ray, so it was different from what we learned at school.
Metacognition — We learned that on a team you have Independence and teamwork. We had to work with everyone else at their pace. It was stressful. We had to focus on tasks and managing the flow. Others don’t work at the same pace all the time, that was a big learning. We were proud of us, “we did so good!” It made us feel good, we know how much we know and we have impressed even ourselves.
In addition to the dental care for the under-served children in our communities, it also provides hands on experiences for our students working along side dental health professionals as well as the experience of giving back.
"Students get to experience teamwork, patient compassion, fast-paced environment, experts in their field giving back. Students were at first nervous, but willing to learn. Once the nervousness went away the flow was excellent. They learned how to communicate with professionals. They made real-time decisions based on the flow and took leadership roles when needed without being asked. Overall great experience!"
"We learned at the beginning of the junior year, it was my job at TEAM SMILES, so it helped me get some real experience."
"I was developing x-rays, it helped me a lot, I have never done that before and it was digital and it was a great experience for my future."
"When you learn it in class, you are not sure if you can do it in real life, but then you realize you really get it. And you also learn how to do what you need to do as quickly and efficiently as possible."
"A lot of patients did not speak English so it was interesting to work with patients from different communities who live differently than we do."
"It made me realize that I can do this work and am good at it!"
"“I learned how everything we learned in dental has prepared me to do this work. It also really helped me learn the flow of a dental work place and how it would be. Made me feel good, and proud to be able to help. "
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