Arc of Alachua
The past few months have introduced some fresh experiences! With new students comes new perspectives, and our Class of 2022 community service chairs have brought some fantastic ideas to the table. Partnering with the Arc of Alachua County, UFCD students were able to introduce themselves to and work with adults with special needs. I’ve had plenty of fun teaching and learning from kids with intellectual needs in the past, but this was my first time having a professional relationship with adult patients who use assisted living services and have special needs. The Arc of Alachua really helps fill the gap for patients who can’t make it to a dentist on their own. As the Arc mission states, “Since Florida ranks 49th among the 50 states in funding for people with developmental disabilities, the need for a strong, unified voice in the political arena is crucial.” The organization is dedicated to providing comprehensive health and dental care to patients with a variety of developmental disabilities. A dozen students and I got to give a nice demonstration about healthy foods and tooth-brushing techniques with the intent of making the dental experience a little less overwhelming for patients with stimulatory sensitivities. It was a unique dynamic that I’m definitely interested in continuing in my professional career!
PS: We didn’t get to snap a picture, but check out UF’s Law Students working hard to make the Arc of Alachua County beautiful, they’re the [second] best!
The AAWD (American Association of Women Dentists) also gave me a fun (and non-dental) first. We helped host an ice cream and Bingo social night at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge gives a relaxed, comfortable environment for people seeking cancer treatment at our local hospitals. It’s a bit of a “home away from home” with a mix of on-site activities throughout the week. Prizes even included gift certificates to restaurants, our local Hippodrome, and UF’s Butterfly Garden Museum. I felt like a real Vanna White calling out BINGO numbers and met some hilarious residents of the lodge who kept me giggling the whole game, so it was a night to remember.
Corrections Corner: About Cancer
Speaking of cancer journeys—back in December, I made a video that includes a rant on cancer diagnoses.
I was angry about a family member being diagnosed only after several months of being treated with antibiotics, being referred out to an ENT specialist for a CT scan then ultimately obtaining a biopsy more than six months past the initial appointment about a growing neck mass. I might have made it sound like the doctors didn’t do their jobs because I felt like our needs were being neglected.
I asked my professor, a prominent pathologist here at UFCD, why they waited so long to investigate the fixed, firm and non-tender mass that was growing in size (characteristic for malignant rather than benign tumors). Apparently, our experience was relatively standard. My professor explained that once a pathologist receives a biopsy, it is typically after being “non-responsive to antibiotics” and so forth. “Otherwise, we would over-biopsy, putting patients through a lot of unnecessary incisions, biopsies, and stress.”
Essentially, I’d like to apologize for perhaps being too harsh in my judgment on the doctors because they were following protocol, whether I agree with it or not. One thing I have learned in the healthcare field is that it’s hard to walk the line between being a healthcare professional who follows a list of important criteria, and being a crazy concerned lady who wants to run every single test in the book.
Finally a Finalist!
This year, I finally got the guts to apply for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship. This program covers the cost of tuition in exchange for post-graduation service to the US Health Corps in approved underserved areas. This is another cool way to bridge the disparity gap in healthcare. Eligible areas include State or Local Health Departments, Mobile or Free Clinics, State Prisons, or other rural, inner-city or under-represented locations. I’ve always had a fondness for public health. My heart goes out to the patients who don’t have the extra income, the transportation, or another barrier to access to care and the NHSC scholarship would let me work with these patients, while also reducing my student loan burden. In early August, I found out I was a finalist for the award (yay!), and I will find out if I am one of the awardees before October. So lots of prayers and fingers crossed—I hope to report back soon with good news! 😊