IU Dental School Outreach Clinic Provides Care on Saturdays to Near Eastside Neighborhood Residents

Dental student and faculty volunteers on opening day of the IUSD Student Outreach Clinic

The IU School of Dentistry has partnered with the HealthNet People’s Health and Dental Clinic for decades through a homeless initiative program that became the first community dentistry patient care project to become a part of a required course for IU dental students.

That effort represented an enormous stride in IU dental education many years ago, but it has been more than matched in 2011 by the new dental care program at People's that IUSD’s students have organized themselves – and that they are managing in their free time on the weekends. Dr. Timothy Carlson, a director of one of the dental school's Comprehensive Care Clinics, and Dr. Karen Yoder, the school's director for Civic Engagement and Oral Health Policy, serve as the primary faculty mentors, and many other IU professors will be contributing to the effort as on-site teachers and supervisors.

When the call went out for student volunteers to donate some of their Saturdays to the care of patients in People's newly built 15-chair clinic at 2340 East 10th Street, there was a thunderous reply: To date, more than 150 students have signed up to participate throughout the year.

The program is a major expansion of the oral healthcare component of the IU Student Outreach Clinic, which was started by IU medical students in 2008. From 2009 till the fall of 2011, Dentistry’s participation had been limited to patient education only. The People’s new clinic makes it possible for students to offer patients a variety of preventive and restorative services.

Dental students joined IU's medical, social work, and law students as well as students of Butler University's College of Pharmacy in an open house for the IU Student Outreach Clinic on Sept. 9. The IUSD Student Outreach Clinic for dental patients opened on Sept. 24. 

Among the founders and leaders of the clinic are dental students from the Classes of 2012 and 2013: Laura Davila, Carolyn Dundon, Ryan Hungate, Tyler Kimmel, Mandy Kot, Kavita Nana, Kurush Savabi, and Katherine So, Stephanie So, and Timothy Surber. As two of the 17 members of the inaugural class of Albert Schweitzer Fellows in the state of Indiana, Kurush and Stephanie have teamed up for their Schweitzer project to address the oral health needs of underserved Indianapolis residents by working to improve oral health access and utilization of dental and preventive services through clinical activities at People’s.

IU's dental students see patients on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Persons who are seen for treatment become patients of record with the HealthNet People's Health and Dental Clinic. Services provided by IU dental students on these Saturdays are at no charge to the patients. To make an appointment, please email  Walk-ins are also welcome.