Aspen Dental first joined the University of California, Los Angeles’s, externship program in 2018, when they piloted their program. A select group of dental students had the opportunity to complete a two-week community rotation.
Today, students in their fourth year complete at least six weeks of rotations at six different practice models, with Aspen Dental representing the dental support organization model. Connections within the program introduced Aspen Dental to the University of Michigan’s program, where students are completing similar rotations, and later this fall, University of Washington students will have the same opportunity.
“The vision of the ongoing collaboration with university externship programs is to inspire students to develop the skills clinically and socially for continued professional growth, which we are champions of day in and day out,” said Dr. Arwinder Judge, Chief Clinical Officer at Aspen Dental. “Dental students on the precipice of their professional careers are gaining real-world experience to determine what path is best for them, while potentially matching with an immediate post-graduate opportunity within an organization that will support them through their journey as a new doctor.”
Externship programs enable dental students at these universities to gain hands-on experiences in various dental practice models while completing their clinical rotations at Aspen Dental office locations. Students develop valuable skills necessary for professional growth and to learn patient engagement, practice management and team-based care delivery, while also increasing access to dental care for vulnerable populations through sustainable community service.
“The externship program allows dental students to learn more about different dental models firsthand before entering the workforce,” said Rachel Greene, Clinical Assistant Professor, Restorative Dentistry at the University of Washington. “This experience empowers them to choose a career that is best suited for them while also giving back to the community.”
“There is no substitute for hands-on experience,” said Bill Piskorowski, Associate Dean of Community-based clinical education UCLA. “This program prepares our students to deliver person-centered care in an integrated health care delivery system. We have started to see a shift in the industry with historically non-traditional practice opportunities becoming traditional.”
To date, 52 dental students have participated in rotations in an Aspen Dental practice. The class of 2024 is expected to include 60 students on rotation at Aspen Dental branded offices from all three participating universities.
“Aspen Dental is committed to continuing education for students and working professionals alike to ensure the best quality care for patients,” said Dr. Tawfiq Alkilani, Aspen Dental practice owner and preceptor. “It’s been very rewarding to be able to work with young dentists to build their skills through this program while also allowing them to get an understanding of and work with people in different dentistry models.”