Local volunteer clinics and interim university president help Transylvania students sink teeth into world of dentistry

Joined by Interim President John N. Williams — who is a dentist — Transylvania University Pre-Dental Club students carpooled to the Mission Lexington clinic earlier this week to learn more about the field and volunteer opportunities.

Robin Prichard, coordinator of pre-heath programs, pointed out how Williams (pictured right) has been an asset to students and the staff who help them along the path to a dental career — both through his background as a dental school administrator and his connections with local clinics. “Dr. Williams has just been wonderful in helping us figure out how to better prepare our students,” Prichard said.

During the field trip, he discussed the future of dentistry and checked out the clinic’s equipment.

Senior Sarah Haerle, president of the Pre-Dental Club, said Williams has been a good mentor. “He has given me so much guidance and advice over the past year as I took my dental school admissions exam, applied to several schools and later interviewed with them. He cares so deeply for all of his mentees, and it really shows in the way he carries himself and dedicates so much of his time and energy to ensure we succeed.”

Haerle is no stranger to the clinic, having volunteered there. “I really think that Mission Lexington has been one of the most valuable volunteer opportunities I have ever been a part of,” she said. 

On her second day there, she assisted with a root canal — and was pretty nervous. “But I had no need to be, because the patients and dentists were all so friendly and willing to let me learn on the spot to expand my dental skills and knowledge,” she said. “I’ve seen all sorts of procedures since then, ranging from simple cleanings to extractions and so much more. I have also been able to make great connections with the patients as they come in for follow-up appointments, which has really driven me to continue pursuing my passion for dentistry.”

Actually, volunteering and other types of experience are necessary when applying to professional schools. So Prichard makes sure Transylvania students have plenty of opportunities to learn about getting hands-on work.

Transylvania pre-health students also learned about volunteering at the University of Kentucky Salvation Army Clinic as they wrapped up Pre-Health Week last Friday. Plus they got advice from seven Transy alumni who are first- and second-year medical students. (J.T. Henderson ’18 is the clinic manager.) “It was so valuable to our students,” Prichard said of the visit.

Transy alumni attending the UK College of Medicine gave advice to pre-med students during a recent visit to the Salvation Army Clinic.