Ohio State Dental Journal

The OHIO Project Celebrates 15 Years

Connecting Students and Dentists with Patients in Need

Children, veterans, the uninsured, and those challenged by drug and alcohol issues are among the underserved populations who too often lack adequate health care. With these needs as a key focus, the College of Dentistry created the Oral Health Improvement through Outreach (OHIO) Project, with funding from a five year, $1.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). This year, the OHIO Project is celebrating 15 years of providing care to populations in need.

“The OHIO Project has been an enormously beneficial program for the college and for the state,” said Patrick M. Lloyd, dean of the College of Dentistry. “It not only helps Ohioans in need, but also provides invaluable experience for our fourth-year dental students who, as part of their curriculum, spend 50 days providing care in community clinics throughout Ohio under the direct supervision of our partner dentists.”

The partner dentists, who are often alumni of the college, serve as associated faculty members. Their participation enables students to observe practice management and care for patients in a diverse collection of oral health delivery environments. As a result, students leave the program with more experience, a greater understanding of career choices, and an enhanced social awareness.

Canise Bean, DMD, '95 MPH, professor-clinical in the Division of General Practice and Materials Science, has led the OHIO Project since its inception 15 years ago. “Many of our students, who write reflective essays on the time they spend serving the community, state the OHIO Project experience is life-changing,” Dr. Bean said. “Our students learn what it means when people have limited access to dental care because of circumstances beyond their control. Some go on to work with practices that offer free care or clinic days for people in need, and some decide to pursue careers in nonprofit community dental clinics.”

Although the RWJF grant expired in 2007, the OHIO Project continues to change lives. “We couldn’t do it without our community partners,” Dr. Bean said. “The clinics, hospitals, and private practices work with our students and provide the instruction, auxiliary staff, supplies, and equipment. It truly is a team effort.”

To view a video about the OHIO Project, visit go.osu.edu/OHIOProject.