The SMILE (Student Mentoring with Immersive Learning and Enrichment) Healthcare Pathway Program, which aims to advance oral health equity,  announced the addition of several prominent organizations as supporters. The program’s mission is to build a more inclusive healthcare workforce by recruiting students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to enter the dental profession.

SMILE Program Purpose

The founding partners of SMILE,  Henry Schein, Inc, the National Dental Association (NDA), and the Schattner Foundation, welcomed the following organizations as supporting partners for the 2024 SMILE Program: the Hispanic Dental Association; the Society of American Indian Dentists; Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry; AT Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health; and, AT Still University’s Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health.

Working together, these partners seek to advance the core mission of cultivating a diverse and talented next-generation of African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian dental professionals, ultimately ensuring a more equitable dental landscape.

Gaining Exposure to Dental Team Roles

The SMILE Program engages rising 9th and 10th-grade students by providing an introduction to career opportunities available within the oral health profession. Through a week-long immersive experience, participants gain exposure to the diverse roles within dental teams, including assisting, hygiene, and dentistry, along with insights into various practice models and industry positions.

Program highlights include:

  • Mentorship: Dedicated dental professionals provide valuable guidance and share their expertise with students.
  • Hands-On Learning: Participants engage in real-world procedures, developing practical skills crucial for future dental careers.
  • Career Pathway Exposure: Students explore a wide range of dental career options, facilitating informed choices about their professional path.
  • Collaboration and Networking: Students will meet fellow rising 9th and 10th graders from around the country, developing social skills and building relationships for a lifetime.
  • Capstone Project: The program culminates in a capstone project, allowing students to showcase their learnings through a tangible presentation.

The 2024 SMILE Program will take place from July 7 to 12 at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tennessee.