ECU dental school earns national honor for innovation

The ECU School of Dental Medicine has received an award for innovation that recognizes its breakthrough approach to providing practical experience for future dentists through rural service-learning centers across North Carolina.

The American Dental Education Association’s ADEAGies Foundation has awarded the school the William J. Gies Award for Vision, Innovation and Achievement, in the Innovation category. The annual Gies Award honors people and organizations that exemplify the highest standards ECU dental school earns national honor for innovation in oral health and dental education, research and leadership.

The dental school earned the designation for building eight state-of-the-art service-learning centers in rural and underserved communities across North Carolina where dental students and residents can hone their skills. The centers and on-campus dental clinics have treated nearly 60,000 patients since the first center opened in 2012 — many of whom previously had little or no access to dental care.

The community service-learning centers — overseen by faculty directors who establish roots as active members of these communities — treat patients while providing students and residents vital education and hands-on clinical experiences.

The school’s community service-learning centers are in Ahoskie, Brunswick County, Davidson County, Elizabeth City, Lillington, Robeson County, Spruce Pine and Sylva. Fourth-year dental students complete nine-week rotations at three different centers to experience a range of patients and cases and to live in diverse communities as they learn.

The 2019 Gies Awards will be presented March 18 in tandem with the 2019 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition in Chicago.