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Hygiene Student Learns Lessons from President's Clinic

Written by Adam Zewe

Dental Hygiene Student Laura Heisch honed her diagnostic skills with the help of a medical expert -- University of Maryland President Jay A. Perman, MD. Heisch brought her expertise to the President's Clinic, an interdisciplinary student group that works alongside Dr. Perman to diagnose patients in the University of Maryland Medical Center Pediatric Gastrointestinal Clinic.

She volunteered for a three-week rotation in the clinic because she wanted to work closely with students from other disciplines, ultimately learning about health care in broader terms. "I thought it would be a good opportunity to help spread an interdisciplinary awareness of the importance of dental hygiene," she states.

Each week, Heisch joined a group composed of one student from each school on campus. The students met Dr. Perman for a lunch-and-learn, followed by a rotation through the clinic. They examined patients and then collaboratively discussed a diagnosis, with each student providing expertise from a different field. After diagnosing the patient, with the help of Dr. Perman or another physician, they would meet with the parents and discuss treatment options.

Heisch recalls helping diagnose a baby who suffered from acid reflux disease. She used her expertise to teach the parents about the relationship between acid reflux and the development of dental caries. Heisch advised the parents to schedule their child for a dental exam soon.

It was rewarding to discuss patient care with other health professionals, Heisch remarks. The opportunity to work in a hospital taught her strategies she will use when she provides treatment in different clinical settings. "We study anatomy and physiology in school, but the President's Clinic really tested my knowledge and forced me to apply it to other systems," concludes Heisch.

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