Global Brigades is an international non-profit that empowers communities to meet their health and economic goals through university volunteers and local teams.
The largest student-led movement for global health
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I’m a pre-dental student/dental professional interested in a volunteer experience. Can the Dental Brigade program help me?
Dental Brigade offers dental professionals and university students hands-on experience in the field of dentistry in remote communities in Honduras, Panama, and Nicaragua. Even if you are not a pre-dental student, you can still join and support our community members and experience the local culture. In conjunction with our Medical Brigade program, we establish mobile dental clinics where we provide many dental services in rural areas that do not have access to oral care otherwise. Dental caries (also known as a tooth decay or cavities) is the most common disease in the world. In our Honduran, Panamanian, and Nicaraguan communities, dentists note that over ninety percent of the people have cavities and that 80% of the population has no access to any type of dental care.
Can you tell me more about how I might get specific hands-on experiences? What kinds of things might I be doing as a member of the Dental Brigade?
As a member of the Dental Brigade Program, you participate in a one-week Dental Brigade in Honduras, Panama, or Nicaragua, where we will partner with communities to set up dental clinics alongside a Medical Brigade. Volunteers will shadow licensed dentists while they complete extractions, cleanings, scalings, and fillings. Only licensed healthcare professionals will be able to perform procedures.
Volunteers also play a vital role in our dental educational workshops. Every volunteer has the opportunity to shadow various procedures and to make a difference in the oral health of the community.
Healthcare professionals’ roles vary, please click here to learn more about the roles of healthcare professionals on brigades.
Will I be able to actually work directly with patients? I want more patient contact.
If you want more patient contact as an undergraduate, Dental Brigades provides a unique opportunity for you to work closely with patients in communities. The students will be able to shadow licensed medical professionals as they give full consultations, observe doctors as they prescribe medications for patients, and assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions.
Healthcare professionals, if accredited through the brigade, may be permitted to work directly with patients. Click here to learn more about the roles of healtcare professionals on brigades.
I'm interested in the Dental Program. Although, I’m very scared of needles and dental procedures. Can I still make an impact?
Definitely. We want volunteers to feel comfortable with the work that is provided. There are many things you can do outside of the dental room. The most sustainable aspect of our program is the educational workshop, or “charla.” In this station, you will have the unique opportunity to make a lasting impact, especially with the children in the community. Volunteers will provide dental education in the form of a game, skit, song, etc. and show patients them how to brush their teeth and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is one of the best way to really get to know the community and experience local culture.
Do I need any special experience before I can participate in a Dental Brigade?
Dental Brigades offer opportunities for volunteers with varying degrees of dental experience. If you’re a pre-dental student or just an interested volunteer, you have the opportunity to see nearly every aspect of the Dental Brigade. Dental Brigades has no prequisites other than a willingness to learn and a passion to better under-served communities.
If you are a licensed dentist, your role will be more technical than that of our student volunteers. Our brigades generally provide services such as extractions, fillings, cleanings, scalings and fluoride treatments.
Can volunteers perform teeth extractions?
Unlicensed volunteers cannot perform any procedures, but will have the amazing opportunity to observe and learn from licensed dentists and hygenists. There are many things students can do to help with the brigade. Our goal is to provide only the highest quality of care to our patients and keep our volunteers safe while providing an educational shadowing experience.
Is there a minimum or maximum number of volunteers for groups?
For University Chapters, there is a minimum 10 volunteers. To fairly serve the community’s needs, this number is non-negotiable. There is no maximum volunteer number. Non-University Chapters- please contact email@example.com.
Where do the funds I raise go?
Volunteers work together with their chapter to fundraise for their individual contributions. Each individual program contribution includes everything needed for the dental brigade: medicine, equipment, local dentists, pharmacists, translators, support staff, ground transportation, food, lodging and emergency medical insurance. Airfare not included.
Is this safe?
The safety of the student volunteers is Global Brigades’ number one priority and is the single most important consideration when entering a community or choosing a project. Each country that Global Brigades serves in has implemented safety protocols and policies to decrease any risk of danger and to ensure that any emergency can be properly handled in a prompt and professional manner. For more information on safety precautions, emergency procedures and insurance information, please visit Safety and Insurance on the Volunteer Resource Site.
This sounds great. How do I get involved?
First, find out if your school has a Dental Brigades Chapter by searching for your school on the Chapters tab. If your school does not have a Chapter, click the Be A Chapter President button to fill out an application to start a chapter. You will be connected with a Chapter Advisor.