SHARING = Student Health Alliance Reaching Indigent Needy Groups.
The College of Dentistry participates with other UNMC colleges and the national organization of Student Run Clinics in a dental SHARING Clinic each quarter. There are four types of SHARING Clinics; three are held in Omaha and the fourth one—the Dental SHARING Clinic in Lincoln.
Dental SHARING Clinics started in 2008 as a result of urging from some local dentists, a feeling that the college should do something to address the oral health needs of the low income population in the Lincoln area and from UNMC in Omaha to join their array of SHARING Clinics. SHARING Clinics are held quarterly with referrals coming primarily from the faith-based Clinic With A Heart, which operates a free triage and referral service weekly in mid-town Lincoln. Patients fill out a consent to treat and a health history and are screened by a dentist at the referral site, who notes the major complaint and what might be the best alternatives to deal with the problem. Many of the cases are complex and represent dental emergencies with pain, swelling and fever. Referred patients come to the college for the evening clinic and are must go through a vitals and history check and a confirming triage before being seen by students of the college (under faculty supervision). Generally an X-ray is taken and one or two procedures delivered in order to get the patient out of pain or help resolve an infection. The primary procedures that can be performed include cleaning, extraction, restoration and occasionally a subsequent referral for root canal therapy. Procedures performed at the SHARING Clinic are at no cost to the patient and the college has used this program to enhance Interprofessional Education opportunities with students from the Lincoln Division of the College of Nursing and health professions students from Omaha.
In recent years the dental SHARING Clinic has gained a positive reputation in the surrounding area. This has resulted in an annual extraction clinic held in conjunction with the Third City Clinic in Grand Island. For this event about 15-20 dental students and faculty go to Grand Island to work out of a private dental office generously donated for the day. Students see about 70 patients on a Saturday to extract about 200 teeth.
More recently, the college has begun working with a district health department in the northeastern part to of the state to identify a minority population with major dental needs. This has resulted in a special triage and referral day conducted by the college at the rural health department and the opportunity provided by the health department to transport up to 40 patients from the rural area to a SHARING Clinic.
The Dental SHARING Clinic program provides students with the opportunity to gain experiences, especially multicultural, they might not ordinarily have at the college and gives faculty and staff an opportunity to model professional behaviors that serve the community. The Dental SHARING Clinic is made possible by generous financial support from Ameritas Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Nebraska, dental alumni and friends.