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School of Dentistry earns service leadership award for work at Rosebud Reservation

Creighton dental students provide care for a patient at the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.The Creighton University School of Dentistry and the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic on the Rosebud Reservation have been selected as recipients of an American Dental Association Foundation E. “Bud” Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Tarrson Dental School Student Community Leadership Award annually highlights significant dental student outreach to vulnerable communities within the U.S. This program supports the “Access to Care” mission pillar of the ADA Foundation by helping dental student groups to provide oral health care to those in need. The award comes with a $5,000 grant.

For several years, Creighton dental students, alumni and faculty have taken four annual service trips to the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic in St. Francis, South Dakota, a clinic operating on the Rosebud Reservation. During each two-and-a-half to five-day service trip, patients are provided an average of $15,000 to $18,000 of dental care.

John Kum, a senior dental student and a leader for the Rosebud Reservation service trip, said each time his fellow students arrive at the reservation, they get a full appreciation for the underserved population there and are reminded of the good they can do in their chosen profession.

“I’m proud to be a student at the Creighton University School of Dentistry, a school that not only educates its students about Jesuit values, but also provides a means to actively work towards being a skilled clinician that cares for the whole of a person,” Kum said. “This award will help send more students to provide care, assist the clinic in costs and, most importantly, bring awareness to such an underserved community.”

The ADA Foundation receives many applications for the Tarrson Award each year. This year, through a very competitive process, six deserving dental programs from around the nation were selected to receive the award. These awards are funded by a donation from the Tarrson family and by a generous donation from ADA Business Resources, Inc.

“The partnership between the St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic and Creighton has been a study in caring and compassion,” said the Rev. John Hatcher, S.J., president of the St. Francis Mission. “The dental students who lead this effort bring renewed hope and possibility here and we’re always glad to see them. They enter this mission field to hone their professional skills, but they see the work they do means so much more than that.”

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