Dentistry for High School Students

Dentistry for High School Students

The School of Dentistry has been very involved recently in high school education programs through OHSU’s Office of Science Education Opportunities. On Track OHSU! is a new pipeline program at the university that was piloted one year ago for underrepresented 11th and 12th-grade students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, and it expanded this fall to include middle school students.

“We have had immediate participation and support from dental students,” said On Track OHSU! Program Director Katie Lenahan. “High school students don’t often get to talk with dentists unless they’re in the dental office so the kids have really appreciated getting to hear from dental students about dentistry.”

Dental students visiting Jefferson and Woodburn High School 11th and 12th grade students in October as part of On Track OHSU included first-year dental students Alayna Schoblaske (two visits); Britta Martinez (two visits); Sita Ping, Raphael Joseph, Travis Davis, and Martin Lindner.  The high school students also came to OHSU in November and December for lunch—attended by a number of dental and other health sciences students—a tram ride, and informal visits on campus.

On Track OHSU expanded this winter to include sixth- through eighth graders at middle school feeders to Jefferson and Woodburn. Dental students participating in middle school visits last month, as well as this month and in March, include first-years Anne Purcell, Raphael Joseph, Brian Phan, and Lillian Nguyen. OHSU hopes to track middle school students’ science interest over the coming years.

Dental students interested in volunteering for On Track OHSU! can contact Katie at “Even if students have an hour to give at lunchtime, it is helpful,” she said. “We understand that students are busy and that’s a priority so we’re very flexible.”

The 9th and 10th grade portion of the On Track OHSU program is called Discover Careers, which connects students with professionals from a variety of health fields including dentistry, nursing, ophthalmology, cardiac sonography, pharmacy, animal care, basic science research, and pediatric audiology. The program is now in its sixth year.

Mary Ann Haisch, R.D.H., has been the dental school’s representative for Discover Careers since its inception. In October and November, Mary Ann gave an overview of dental careers to a total of 300 high school students from Benson, Jefferson, Woodburn, Beaverton Health and Science, Franklin, and Madison.

“The greatest predictor to dentistry is how well you do in the sciences,” said Mary Ann. “Discover Careers gives me a chance to introduce dentistry to young people who are looking at careers in the health sciences.”

Mary Ann said she always asks the young people about their dental experiences and advises them to work hard and stay out of trouble. “They always ask about the path of my own career and I tell them how much I love working with people, learning continually, and how rewarding it is to change people’s lives for the better.

“It is neat to see such a diverse group of students here at OHSU,” she said. “Discover Careers is a fun and educational day for the teens and it is great for dentistry to be part of the broader university.”