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Special Needs Clientele’s Dental Hygiene Learning Served by Academic Service Learning Grant Funding

PhotoAn Academic Service Learning grant awarded to Ferris State University’s Dental Hygiene program supports oral hygiene instruction for special needs students at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District’s Educational Center.

Students in the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District’s special education program receive one-to-one instruction to improve dental hygiene from Ferris State University College of Health Professions students. The effort results from an Academic Service Learning grant provided by the Office of Community Engagement.

Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene Cathy Archer said their department has received financial support from the university in past years. Archer continues work started by Professor Emeritus Sandra G. Burns. The most recent stipend from the OCE was just under $1,000.

“This program was available to those attending the MOSID Educational Center, which includes students 26 years of age, and under,” Archer said. “This is an excellent inter-professional outreach opportunity that we can offer our students to positively impact both the oral and general health of the center’s young people.”

Archer said Dental Hygiene students have lab rotations during the fall and spring semesters, including three visits per term to review oral education techniques with MOISD students.

“That patient interaction has great value in the learning experience for our students,” Archer said. “To give the educational center students that kind of consideration and experience, where they learn how to care for their teeth and support their health outcomes is powerful for everyone involved.”

Archer said the MOISD students receive other benefits beyond the interactions and instruction, thanks to the ASL grant support.

“We also provide electric toothbrushes to our clients at the center,” Archer said. “That technology is an important implement for these young people, so they manage their oral hygiene more easily, and our students can feel confident about making a real contribution to better community health.”