Program Overview

Dental students participating in the West Virginia Institute for Community and Rural Health experience are scheduled, for a minimum of six weeks at a rural site, during their senior year. Some students may be approved to spend additional time at a rural site. WVU dental hygiene students will rotate for an eight week period the summer prior to their senior year. All students will receive the education necessary to prepare them for this unique opportunity to experience dental practice in a rural community.

The training sites are the offices of dental practitioners practicing in rural communities. These offices have operatory space available to the student while at the site, and usually a dental assistant is provided during a significant part of the student's experience. It's expected that there will also be assurance of a patient load that is adequate enough to provide a reasonable amount of clinical experience.

Students participate in the program five days per week with the exception of holidays, scheduled vacation, and special days as noted in the School of Dentistry calendar. Students may elect to work during vacation time.

Students are expected to provide clinical services and observe in the dental office a minimum of three days per week. Students that participate in the program for longer than six weeks will have additional clinic days available to them. In addition to the clinical activities, students will participate in interprofessional educational experiences, research, and community outreach activities one day per week.

Community research, outreach and health promotion are important goals of the rural experience. Dental and dental hygiene students are prepared to provide a wealth of information, education, and service within the community. Oral health education, tobacco awareness programs, poster contests, family caregiver training, and participation in health fairs are typical of the activities available to school systems, senior centers, nursing homes, and community events. The students will actively participate as members of a total health care team in treating patients and in the development and implementation of community health policy.