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Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic partners with CNC

Dr. William Vansickle works on patient Linda Allen at the Collaborate Care Clinic at CNC. Bill Phillips photo

If you’re an automotive student at the College of New Caledonia you would expect to get some training on actual vehicles. Similarly, if you’re learning how to operate heavy equipment, the best learning environment is on an actual piece heavy equipment.

The same goes for CNC dental assistant and dental hygiene students.

And they can, thanks to a new partnership between the Prince George Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic and the College of New Caledonia. The real benefit, other than students getting hands-on training, is that the clinic, operated through the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, creates additional opportunities for dental care services to those in need.

“It provides emergency services for marginalized members of the community,” said  Cyndi Lewis, CNC Dental Studies instructor. “… Some nights they’ll have 50 people lined up, some nights they’ll have 10. It’s all volunteer based with dentists in the community and our students here at CNC.”

The Prince George Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic and the Native Friendship Centre approached Dr. Richard Wilczek, looking for a way to expand their services. The Prince George Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic provides dental work “to get people out of pain,” such as extractions. They wanted to expand the services to include things such as fixing a broken tooth and/or root canal.

Dr. Wilczek then approached the college to find a way to accomplish that using the students. Out of that came the Collaborate Care Clinic, operated at the college twice a month.

“We have a dental assisting students who are assisting our community dentists who are volunteering their services,” said Lewis. “We have second-year dental hygiene students who are administering local anesthetic for the patients. It’s an invaluable opportunity for those students … rather than working on mannequins.”

Certified Dental Assistant student Andrea Nelson.

For Andrea Nelson, who is a student in the certified dental assistant program, the experience is invaluable.

“It’s a really great opportunity for us, as students, to get that hands-on experience,” she said. “… We’re a little more prepared when we fired into the real world … This takes it to a whole new level. We’re dealing with the full, real deal.”

And for Linda Allen, who usually gets nervous when she goes to the dentist, the experience at the clinic puts her at ease.

“I love it,” she said. “I wasn’t sure at first because I don’t like going to the dentist but my first visit was fabulous … They do it in a great way, and they’re learning.”

Linda Allen gets ready to have some dental work done. Bill Phillips photo

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