Volunteer Opportunities Available Through ADA and HVO.
Oral health knows no boundaries. Unfortunately, the need for dental services on behalf of the underserved populations is so great that demand for oral health care volunteers always exceeds the supply. The American Dental Association (ADA) is a strong advocate of volunteerism and encourages its members and others in the health community to share their time and talents with those in developing areas across the globe. In order to promote and encourage overseas volunteer activities the Association participates in and sponsors several programs.
The ADA Center for International Development and Affairs and Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) collaborate to offer several worldwide volunteer opportunities for U.S. and Canadian licensed dentists. HVO is a private non-profit organization committed to improving health care in developing countries through training and education. By emphasizing teaching rather than service, HVO aims to create a group of trained local dental professionals who can teach others. This builds an ongoing capability that will benefit the population long after the volunteer has departed. Interested dentists view a list of current opportunities at http://www.ada.org/ada/international/volunteer/overseas.asp or are encouraged to contact HVO directly at (202)296-0928.
Apart from the ADA/HVO programs there are numerous U.S. based organizations that sponsor and organize oral health care volunteer programs not only for dentists, but for several categories of oral health care professionals. In fact, to assist prospective volunteers learn about overseas volunteerism and choose a specific program, the ADA has a booklet, International Dental Volunteer Organizations: A Guide to Service and a Directory of Programs.This guide is complimentary to ADA members and can also be downloaded at http://www.ada.org/ada/international/volunteer/ivo.asp.
To acknowledge those who have selflessly volunteered their time and talents, the Association has instituted programs to recognize such efforts.The Certificate of Recognition for Volunteer Service in a Foreign Country honors dentists and dental student volunteers who have spent at least 14 days in a 24-month period performing dental services in a foreign country. More information can be found at http://www.ada.org/ada/international/vol...certificate.asp.
Taking recognition to another level, the American Dental Association recently announced the inception of the new ADA Humanitarian Award. This prestigious award recognizes dentist members who have distinguished themselves by outstanding, unselfish leadership and contributions to their fellow human beings in the field of dentistry, through the dedication of extraordinary time and professional skills to improve the oral health of underserved populations in the United States or abroad. The award recognizes individual volunteer commitment and leadership that has had a broad impact on oral health and the improvement of the human condition. Visit http://www.ada.org/ada/international/art...arian_award.asp to learn more.
The real, “reward”, of volunteerism does not come in the form of a certificate or plaque, but rather the satisfaction of knowing that one has made a lasting impact on another’s life. Whether through the ADA or another organization, there is a suitable volunteer opportunity for everyone!