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Migrant Clinic Serves Public, Teaches Clinical Skills
When Andrew Rosenstein ’13 entered his first year of dental school, he was looking for experiential learning opportunities to develop both clinical and leadership skills. He found what he was looking for in a volunteer position as a student coordinator for the UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic.
“I chose to be a part of this public service in order to serve underprivileged communities as well as to further my knowledge of health care and the clinical sciences,” explains Rosenstein. “I also thought that undertaking a leadership role in my first year of dental school would improve my organizational skills and prepare me for future positions within the dental community.”
Each year, approximately 20,000 migrant farm workers travel from Mexico, Jamaica and elsewhere in the United States to harvest crops of fruits and vegetables at farms across Connecticut. Agricultural workers, the majority of whom do not have health insurance, are at a greater risk than workers in every other industry except construction. Work conditions, use of farm equipment and exposure to chemicals typically cause injuries, respiratory illnesses, skin and eye conditions, infections and musculoskeletal disorders.
UConn established the Migrant Farm Worker Clinic in 1998 to start treating this vulnerable population. Today, the clinic provides free services for up to 400 patients annually from June through October. While providing care to workers who are vital to the state economy, the clinic also offers the opportunity for UConn students to practice clinical skills and develop cultural understanding.
“The Migrant Farm Worker Clinic is an integral of our community service program. This is one of the first opportunities for our students to become involved in the direct care of patients. More importantly it provides the farm workers an entry point to help meet their dental needs,” says Michael Goupil, D.D.S., associate dean for students at the School of Dental Medicine.
As a student coordinator for the 2010 season, Rosenstein is helping plan the dental clinic operations for migrant farm communities throughout the state.
Clinic teams include residents and nurse practitioners and students from the dental medicine, medicine, pharmacy and nursing schools. Students gather histories, perform physicals and confer with faculty dentists and physicians to develop treatment plans.
“The clinic benefits students
by providing the chance to work with distinguished faculty,” says
Rosenstein. “I’m excited for the opportunity this summer to work
with leading practitioners and develop my clinical skills while also
volunteering in the community.”