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Henry Schein, National Dental Association, and Schattner Foundation Present Student Mentoring Program for Aspiring Dental Professionals

Posted on Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Applications for the Second Annual 2024 S.M.I.L.E. Healthcare Pathway Program are now being accepted

Henry Schein, Inc. (Nasdaq: HSIC), National Dental Association (NDA), and Schattner Foundation are pleased to partner and present the S.M.I.L.E. (Student Mentoring with Immersive Learning and Enrichment) Healthcare Pathway Program. This innovative public-private partnership is designed to mentor and support aspiring healthcare professionals and enhance inclusivity within the dental field.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2024 program taking place July 7 to 11, 2024, at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, Nashville, TN. Joining Henry Schein, the NDA, and Schattner Foundation in presenting the 2024 program are the Hispanic Dental Association, the Society of American Indian Dentists, Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, and the A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, and the A.T. Still University's Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health.

The S.M.I.L.E. Program empowers underrepresented high school students (grades 9-10) with a passion for oral health to gain exposure to the variety of career opportunities available within the oral health profession, including assisting, hygiene, and dentistry, as well as various practice models and industry roles. Through an immersive, week-long experience, the program provides:

● Mentorship from experienced dental professionals;

● Hands-on learning of real-world procedures and develop practical skills;

● Career pathway exposure to discover diverse dental career options; and

● Capstone project culminating in a presentation focused on translating their learnings into tangible action.

This comprehensive approach fosters informed career choices, builds essential skills, and empowers future leaders in oral health.

“We are thrilled to join with our partners to present the S.M.I.L.E. Healthcare Pathway Program,” said Dr. Carol Summerhays, Henry Schein S.M.I.L.E. Program Director. “This program represents a significant milestone in our unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the dental profession. Through early exposure, mentorship, and direction, we firmly believe that by introducing students to the dynamic world of dentistry, we can ignite their passion and empower them to pursue careers as dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental office administrators. In America, over 30% of the population identify as Black or African American or Hispanic, with that number dropping significantly to less than 10% for dentists.1 We hope to cultivate the next generation of dental professionals to better serve our diverse patient community and strengthen the foundation of our critical health care community."

In 2023, the inaugural S.M.I.L.E. program took place at three locations: Howard University College of Dentistry, University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and Mary’s Center, a federally qualified health center located in the DC Metro area that delivers affordable, accessible, quality, and value-based primary health care. The program was made possible by a generous grant from the Schattner Foundation and the support of other professional organizations.

The program brought together 34 ninth and tenth-grade students from the Metropolitan DC area, Las Vegas, New York, and Ohio, for an immersive learning experience with dental professionals and specialists. To learn more and gain insights from participants' watch this video.

“The NDA remains mission-focused and committed to supporting educational initiatives and programs that empower aspiring health care professionals. By partnering with Henry Schein, the Schattner Foundation, and esteemed institutions like Howard University, the University of Maryland, and now Meharry Medical College, we will continue to ‘build bridges’ and to make a significant impact in nurturing talent and fostering growth in the dental industry. Together, our collective efforts will help mentor future health care professionals, enhance health literacy, expand diversity in the health care workforce, and ultimately improve health equity and overall outcomes in underserved communities nationwide,” said Dr. Marlon Henderson, 99th President of the National Dental Association.

Applications for the 2024 program at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry are now being accepted. The application deadline is March 31, 2024. Eligible students can apply by completing the online application form on the official S.M.I.L.E. Program website,

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