By LAURA CARRELL
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The River Hills Community Health Center is becoming a teaching platform as it welcomes dental students on their clinical rotations.
For the first time in Ottumwa, a University of Iowa dental student is gaining real-world knowledge by doing rotations at the River Hills dental clinic. By studying for five weeks with Dr. Ed Dye, Samuel Kim is able to make some relationships and connections before graduating.
The five-week extramural rotation is a requirement for University of Iowa dental students in their senior year. Dr. Ken Jones, dental director at River Hills' dental clinic, says the experience of hands-on learning is invaluable.
"It gives students exposure to the site outside of the classroom," he explained.
Now in the second of his five weeks, Kim's experience has already exceeded his expectations.
"Before I came here, I didn't know what to expect," Kim said. "I've been able to learn many different things, not just procedures, but learning from their experience, how to interact with patients, working with a community health center."
The majority of University of Iowa dental students will do their rotations in the state, but a few will go elsewhere in the country, and some will even go internationally. Two of Kim's classmates are currently doing their rotations in Alaska. While living in Ottumwa for these five weeks, Kim is also studying for boards and preparing for graduation.
Kim says he's been able to do some procedures at River Hills that he only studied in the classroom. With a limited patient pool at the university, being here at the clinic has allowed him to be supervised one-on-one in a smaller setting.
"It allows students to get more experience, to have a wider view of dentistry," Dye said. "And we're able to pass on our experience to a student. From my standpoint, I get to be a teacher for five weeks."
In just the second week of rotations, Dye says he is already looking forward to the program continuing at River Hills.
"The whole point of a health center is to help people and help the community. (Having students do their clinical rotations here) is a sense of giving back to dentistry. It's been good to Dr. Jones and myself, and now we're able to give something back. It allows us to be teachers without going to Iowa City," he said.
River Hills will also begin clinical rotations for Indian Hills dental assistant students beginning later this month.