The Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program kicked off its orientation for a new cohort of eight students on Aug. 10 at the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Riverpoint Campus, RIDE’s Spokane hub.
It marked the start of the second year for RIDE, which operates in conjunction with the UW School of Medicine’s regional WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) program. RIDE students spend their first year at Riverpoint, where they study alongside medical and dental hygiene students. They spend their second and third years at the School of Dentistry in Seattle, and a large portion of their fourth-year education will take place in community health settings in Eastern Washington.
Welcoming students at orientation were Dean Martha Somerman and Wendy Mouradian, RIDE director and the School of Dentistry’s associate dean of regional affairs and curriculum.
“We have a huge problem with access to care, and you’re going to be part of the solution,” Somerman said. Mouradian added, “Part of the subtext here is to mix medicine and dentistry together.”
Students also heard from Pete Eveland, associate dean for student sffairs at the UW School of Medicine; Art DiMarco, RIDE director at Riverpoint; and Ken Roberts, director of WWAMI at Riverpoint. Also on hand was Sue Coldwell, UW Dentistry’s associate dean of student life and admissions. She told students, “We need you to think not only about the mouth being part of the body, but also how dentistry is part of society and part of the health system.”
Others taking part in the orientation included Jim Sledge, RIDE regional clinical director; Richard McCoy, professor emeritus of restorative dentistry; John Evans, clinical associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery; Linda Higley, RIDE counselor; Bea Gandara, clinical associate professor of oral medicine, and David Pitts, RIDE director of educational technology, among other staff from the School of Dentistry and EWU.
The orientation included a course schedule overview, a student panel discussion, and a discussion of professionalism and ethics by Evans and Mouradian. All WWAMI-RIDE students also received new stethoscopes and dental mouth mirrors in a presentation attended by family and friends. The day concluded with a barbecue picnic.
Other activities held during orientation week included a library orientation, a team-building river-float event, an introduction to clinical medicine and dentistry course orientation and the first meeting of the anatomy and embryology course.
“This program is working amazingly well,” said DiMarco, who said no major changes were contemplated in the wake of the first year’s experience. Class of 2012 students who were interviewed during the spring also voiced their satisfaction with the program.
Student Patty Martin said the distance learning format has not been a hindrance, and at times can be an advantage. Students can go back for repeat viewings of recorded lectures, she noted, and during live remote lectures they can also obtain more clarification when needed from RIDE faculty at Riverpoint.
“I’m understanding the material well, I think — more so than if I were just getting it once,” she said. She also said that Spokane District Dental Society (SDDS) members had been very welcoming toward RIDE students, and that she’d enjoyed going to SDDS meetings. Martin said she had a little trepidation about the move to the Seattle campus this fall — she’s never lived in a large city — but she was not worried about reintegrating with the rest of the Class of 2012. “I think it’ll be just fine,” she said.
Student Kevin Nygard said RIDE’s mission attracted him at the outset: “To serve the underserved rural populations of Eastern Washington. This is where I consider home — the people that I love, and that I want to serve as well. It seemed to fit really well with my career goals, and where I wanted to live. I’m just excited to be here.”
Mouradian added, “We are really excited about welcoming the class of 2013 to Riverpoint and integrating the inaugural cohort to the Seattle campus.”