As part of NYU’s Global Network University (GNU), whose 13 academic study centers worldwide have made it a global brand, NYU dental students have virtually limitless opportunities to participate in public health initiatives in a global setting. For our students, this goes directly to the human dimension of doing something good with one’s life. Also, NYU’s global brand is reflected in the fact that NYU dental graduates practice in every city and state in the nation and in every country in the world.
NYU Dentistry’s global reach is possible because of our participation in the NYU Global Network University. The GNU allows students and faculty to gather in a set of key locales around the globe to forge new ideas, advance the questions we ask about the world, and create solutions for the problems that beset us all.
The core strength of the GNU is collaboration. Part of NYU’s teaching mission consists of preparing students for lives in a diverse world, and our faculty believes that such preparation is most effective through collaboration. Our relationship to New York City -- the diversity of thought represented by all of our schools, colleges, and programs, and our internationally connected and collaborative faculty -- enables students and faculty alike to broaden the scope and vision of knowledge through interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning in order to make a real difference in the world.
For over 20 years, NYU Dentistry has provided the nation’s most extensive oral health outreach programs for New York City schoolchildren, the elderly, people with disabilities, and other underserved populations. The NYU Dentistry/Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program has also built an exemplary global outreach model that provides participants with a unique service-learning experience, opportunities to conduct critically-needed research, and an increased awareness of access to care issues, while fostering a passion for volunteerism and social responsibility. Participants on these outreaches speak of being challenged to re-think their roles as healthcare providers, and describe their experiences as "transformative." Equally important, the communities served by these programs are empowered by NYU Dentistry’s outreach model as sustainable oral health services become a reality. Current international outreach sites include Manta, Ecuador; Grenada, West Indies; La Preciosita, Mexico; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Granada, Nicaragua. Within the United States, students have provided care and conducted research in Hudson, New York; Machias, Maine; and several villages in Alaska.
The Kenya Oral Health and Education Study (KOES) at the Daraja Academy has been in the making since 2013. Daraja Academy is a boarding secondary school, located 200 km north of Nairobi in rural central Kenya, for impoverished Kenyan girls who have excellent academic abilities but no financial means to pay for their education. The school, through foundation support, provides full scholarships for these girls. The girls come from 31 tribes from all parts of Kenya. The academy provides shelter, food, clothing, and counseling services, which allow students to focus on their academic and personal potential, without being hindered by the everyday barriers of poverty. However, the Daraja school girls do not have regular access to routine dental care, and they face several oral health challenges.
The purpose of KOES is to establish a comprehensive health promotion program that will significantly improve the oral health of the girls and promote healthier behaviors. The program will serve as a model initiative that we will replicate in other areas of Kenya, Africa and beyond. Most significantly, the girls are trained to become leaders in oral health, educating their peers, family, and friends back in their villages to improve their oral health and general health. This program’s mission is to empower girls to self-sustain their oral and general health, and assist those in their communities to do the same.