- Dentistry students participate in portable clinic at Sunflower House in Wagga Wagga
Charles Sturt University dentistry students in Wagga Wagga saw a different side of regional healthcare as they performed vital oral health services within the community this week.
Fifth-year Bachelor of Dental Science students Mr Esvara Kumar and Ms Hannah Kim were offering members at Sunflower House in Wagga Wagga screenings, check-ups and referrals at a portable clinic.
The portable clinic is part of a workplace learning component of the degree, which the students said has showed them a different side of dentistry.
“There are a lot of communities that don’t have access to dentists, whether it’s because of affordability or location, so going to patients makes sure everyone has access,” Mr Kumar said.
Ms Kim said the portable clinic means she gets to have interactions with patients she would not normally come in contact with in the classroom or clinic.
“It’s always good to do something different and practice in a different environment … it’s about learning to adapt,” she said.
Members of Sunflower House saw the students, under the supervision of Adjunct Senior Lecturer Dr Mark Wotherspoon, who screened patients, checked dental and oral hygiene, and gave referrals where necessary.
The Charles Sturt workplace learning program is committed to developing students’ broader understanding of patient-centred care and professional responsibilities.
A project was launched in 2020 to offer oral health screenings and services to residents in an aged care facility in Canowindra, under the supervision of Dr Jane Daly. This project was extended to members of Sunflower House in Wagga Wagga this week.
“While building students’ clinical competencies in a formal clinical setting is an essential part of professional training, the Charles Sturt University workplace learning program is committed to developing students’ broader understanding of patient-centred care and professional responsibilities,” Professor Flatau said.
“Students learn more about the issues that impact access to oral health services in regional and rural NSW.”
The project was supported by Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health, which provided funding for portable dentistry equipment, chair and clinical supervision under the Australian Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.
NDIS Manager at Sunflower House Ms Katy Travers said having the students offer this service was invaluable to members.
“Oral health is often forgotten during episodes of poor mental health and access to a professional dentist is unattainable due to finances and/or lack of supports to attend,” she said.
“The portable dentistry clinic has enabled our members to have easy access to a routine check-up, thus contributing to their overall health.”