June 2015, Volume 19, Number 3


Students working on children’s teeth
In three days, 17 MDC students and their faculty supervisors helped 430 people in Jamaica by providing direct patient care and oral hygiene education.

Three Days Made a World of Difference

MDc student holding occluder up to child’s eye
An MDC student checks a girl's vision in Jamaica.

A team of 17 students along with their faculty supervisors from MDC’s Dental Hygiene and Opticianry Departments recently traveled to Jamaica for three days to perform dental and optical screenings for children and adults who lack ready access to medical facilities. The program, which was sponsored by the Lions Club of Mandeville in Jamaica, enabled the dental hygiene students to help 430 people by providing direct patient care and oral hygiene education. In addition, the opticianry program screened 315 patients, and 130 pairs of glasses have been distributed free of charge.

“With the kids, we would do the refraction to find the right prescription for them,” said Stephanie Prieto, who graduated from MDC in May with an associate degree in vision care technology and opticianry. “You didn’t even have to ask them when it was right; you could tell it was because their faces lit up. It was maybe the first time they had seen the world clearly.”

“We always want to find chances for students to do practical clinical work, and not just here at MDC,” said Dr. Mark Everett, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Miami Dade College. “This international experience is critical. They see ailments you don’t see in the U.S., and overall it is a vast learning opportunity.”

Chelsea Abreu, who also graduated in May and participated in the dental program, said, “It was an amazing experience to do the things we normally do, but do them outside the clinic, and the people were so welcoming and appreciative. I had children shaking my hand and holding on to me. It was so touching.”

Prieto was equally impressed. “It was a life-changing experience,” she said. “The work was exhausting for us, but people walked for miles and started lining up at 4 a.m. to get our services. It made us reflect on how much we take things for granted back home.”

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