By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University's Gene W. Hirschfeld School of Dental Hygiene is partnering with the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation on a program that will provide an educational pathway for high school students interested in pursuing careers in the dental profession.

The inaugural Dental Health Summer Institute will be held July 18-22. The free virtual program, open to rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, will be taught by Hirschfeld School of Dental Hygiene faculty. The interactive curriculum will introduce students to a variety of dental health science topics, and ODU admission staff will help guide them through the college admission process.

A particular focus of the institute is to bring underrepresented high school students into the profession.

"It is very exciting for the Gene W. Hirschfeld School of Dental Hygiene to partner with the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation on the first Dental Health Summer Institute," said Ann Bruhn, associate professor and chair of ODU's School of Dental Hygiene. "We feel this will introduce and provide an avenue for high school students interested in the dental profession, in particular the School of Dental Hygiene at ODU, and with an emphasis on building diversity in the dental professions. We anticipate the institute will continue in future years and have high participation leading to an increase in diverse applicants for the University, college and school."

This new initiative is the latest example of the Hirschfeld School's community outreach. The David and Sofia Konikoff Dental Hygiene Care Facility is staffed and supervised by licensed dental hygienists and dentists, educates future dental hygienists and provides affordable services to ODU students, faculty, staff and the local community. The facility adapted and continued to provide service throughout the pandemic.

The Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation is launching the Dental Health Summer Institute in conjunction with the organization's 10th anniversary.

Polly Raible, the foundation's executive director, said the development of the program was about a year in the making and inspired by a similar program at the New York University School of Dentistry.

Applications for the Dental Health Summer Institute will be accepted until March 28. The review of applications is scheduled to be completed by May 8. Students can apply at this link.

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