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ODU Faculty in Nicaragua to Help Create Country's First Dental Hygiene Program

Two Old Dominion faculty members and a student are part of a Norfolk-based team of dental professionals that is in Nicaragua this month to support an initiative to create the country's first dental hygiene program, at the Universidad Autónoma (UNAN) in Leon.

During the two-week mission, Professor Gayle McCombs, Assistant Professor Tara Newcomb and graduate student Kendra Kleppe, from the School of Dental Hygiene, will present lectures, develop curriculum and assess the country's dental hygiene needs on behalf of Physicians for Peace, an international nonprofit organization headquartered in Norfolk. "The more help and expertise we can lend to the project, the more successful it will be in the long run," said McCombs, director of ODU's Dental Hygiene Research Center and dental hygiene graduate program. "The main objective of the next mission is to present the curriculum to the dental school faculty and work with health officials as we move toward the implementation of the first dental hygiene program. A few years from now, I hope to be present as the first class of dental hygienists graduate."

The mission represents an important step forward in the program development at UNAN-Leon. Physicians for Peace also helped create a dental assistant program at the university that was launched in the 2011 academic year. On the July mission, the team will help UNAN-Leon faculty, local dentists and Nicaraguan health care officials gain perspective on the long-term role a dental hygiene program might have in improving oral health in Nicaragua.

This article was posted on: July 4, 2011

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