ChattState Students Provide Vital Dental Care to Underserved Communities

Dr. Tena Phillips (far right) and Mark Matney (far left) stand with RAM volunteers from Chattanooga State Community College. (Source: Chattanooga State Community College)

CHATTANOOGA, TN — A group of Chattanooga State Community College students traveled to Knoxville in January 2024 to provide free dental care to underserved communities, exemplifying the college’s commitment to community service and to hands-on learning for its students.

All told, 674 volunteers from 18 school groups saw 1,013 patients and delivered $591,007 worth of care during the three-day clinic.

ChattState Associate Professor of Dental Assisting Dr. Tena Phillips highlighted the dual benefits of volunteering at RAM: underserved communities, sometimes with severe dental issues, receive much-needed aid; meanwhile, students gain valuable hands-on experience working in mouths that require advanced treatment — an opportunity not always available in the campus dental clinic.

Dr. Tena Phillips

ChattState students gain experience in the college’s on-campus clinic giving oral exams and cancer screenings, dental cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, and applying sealant.

Between top-tier classroom education and extensive hands-on practice on campus and at RAM, ChattState dental assisting and hygiene students graduate ready to start a fulfilling and impactful career.

“Area dentists tell me that they look forward to hiring ChattState graduates,” Phillips said. “We provide a well-rounded graduate who can become a certified dental assistant.”

ChattState President Dr. Rebecca Ashford said the college’s participation in RAM embodies the college’s core tenets.

Dr. Rebecca Ashford

“I am proud of the service our dental students and faculty provided to underserved individuals,” Ashford said. “I am grateful to SGA for funding their travel to Knoxville, which made this service-learning opportunity possible. I am so proud of the example they’ve set in fulfilling the College’s mission to enrich the lives of students and their families, develop a talented workforce, and partner with our community to lead boldly into the future.”

According to its website, RAM is a non-profit provider of pop-up clinics offering free dental, vision, and medical services to underserved and uninsured patients. Since its 1985 founding, RAM has treated nearly 1 million individuals and provided over $195 million worth of free services.

Thanks to Payton Potter, Chattanooga State Community College, for sharing this article.

Read the original article here: Empowering Students, Transforming Smiles: ChattState Dental Students Aid Underserved Communities at Free Clinic

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