Rural Rotation - private practice experience for all students

Zach Lynn treats a patient on his rural rotation.

Connecting students and community

Learning opportunities for dental and dental hygiene students extend beyond the walls of the dental school and its clinics. A unique relationship with private practitioners across the state creates another level of hands-on experience for students in a private practice setting. The program, over the years, has been referred to as Rural Rotation, Rural Health Program, Rural Preceptorship and Rural health Program in Dentistry and Clinical Assessment. 

The purpose has remained the same:

  • connect additional providers (soon-to-be graduates) with patients in need
  • give students valuable experience outside their typical classrooms, labs and clinics
  • entice dental school graduates to consider practicing in West Virginia

Student Rural Rotation Review

Hunter Wright, Class of 2024

I thoroughly enjoyed my rural rotation experience during the fall semester of my fourth year, during which I spent six weeks with Drs. Valerie and Chip Perrine in Cowen, WV. This opportunity allowed me to get a taste of rural private practice, which has always been an interest to me. I learned so much about dentistry, business, mentorship, and simply caring for those who need it most. The relationships Dr. Perrine and Chip have with their patients were not only professional doctor/patient relationships, but friendships. The dynamic between provider and patient is one of the most important aspects of dentistry, and of all the things I learned and experienced on my rural rotation, getting to know the patients I treated was what I enjoyed most. 

In the first 30 years

  • rural rotation idea dates back to 1991
  • it was developed to meet needs of patients specifically in Appalachia
  • through the rotations, 275,000 individuals have been impacted
  • patients have received 286,000 procedures

Another level of learning

The idea for the school to partner with West Virginia dentists in private practice dates back to 1991 and was developed to meet the unique demands of patients in Appalachian. In its current form, the rural rotation program gives dental and dental hygiene students an opportunity to spend six to eight weeks treating patients in a private practice setting. The Rural Rotation program is made possible through the collaboration with more than 90 dental offices across the state. Private practice dentists provide operatory space, patients and often a dental assistant for students during their six to eight week rotation. Private practice dentists, or preceptors, help students observe and evaluate daily relationships with patients, staff, laboratory technicians, supply salespersons, other health professionals, and many more people in their communities.

This unique opportunity allows students to develop skills in

  • hiring, training, supervising
  • appointment control, maintaining patient accounts, fee establishment
  • dentists' role in the community, availability of care for low income and underserved residents

On rotation

Zach Lynn Rural Rotation 2

Watch: DDS student Zach Lynn at Tebay and Associates