The University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry has been successful in expanding its reach across the state. It is now looking to broaden its reach internationally through a study abroad program.
Representatives from the European Union (EU) recently presented a proposal to Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD, and Timothy L. Hottel, DDS, MS, MBA, dean of the College of Dentistry, for funding international exchange programs through the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) program. If an agreement is finalized, UTHSC will be the first school in the United States to participate in the study abroad program, which is funded by the EU.
Through the initiative, the College of Dentistry will have the opportunity to collaborate with ERASMUS on enhancing international student exchange in both academics and research. The program will allow the College of Dentistry to send students or staff to participating institutions or host them. Since the 1980s, the ERASMUS exchange program has been providing students and higher education teaching staff in the EU the opportunity to go abroad while completing their degree. The program is currently offered in 33 countries.
Students who study abroad have shown better adaptability working in a multicultural environment, and the College of Dentistry has welcomed students from other countries. In the past, the College of Dentistry has hosted Bulgarian dental students through the Global Oral Health Institute, a network of dental schools across the globe offering predoctoral students the option of participating in a global dentistry clinic during their senior year. Neli Dilkova, a dental student from Bulgaria who participated in the program, said of her experiences at UTHSC, “We made wonderful friends, and we hope that it will be a lifetime friendship.” The College of Dentistry will welcome new students from Bulgaria in September.
The College of Dentistry is committed to UTHSC’s mission of public service, and currently has service opportunities for its students to go abroad. Trips to El Salvador and Haiti are just a few examples of past global outreach by the college.
“We would like our students to go abroad, to take our dentistry practices, and go out and treat people who are underserved,” said Dr. Hottel.