Are we doing dental procedures during the dental clinics?

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 Greetings Ramin,

 I’m Dr. Karen Zapata, dentist and coordinator for the dental practice of GMT Nicaragua. It’s nice to hear from you, Ramin, and your concern for the dental practice in Nicaragua.

 In all of my dental trips with pre dental students, they have all been well supervised and organized. At the beginning of each trip I give a dental seminar to the students where they are introduced to basic concepts of dentistry and bio-security procedures. Additionally, I explain to students how the set up of the clinic will be and a demonstration of the different tools and procedures that need to be followed. And last but not least, I make sure to make clear that all the dental procedures will be done by me; and that the student’s role is that of an assistant, and nothing more.

 Some students may have mentioned to you and to other authorities that they are allowed to do invasive dental treatments in Nicaragua; this is not so I will never put at risk my patients, nor GMT’s prestige, nor my reputation  as a professional by allowing students to do invasive treatments to patients in Nicaragua. What’s more, GMT has always been supervised by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health which would not allow, under any circumstances, pre dental students do any invasive dental treatment to patients.

 As a professional in the dental field, I will never put a patient’s health in jeopardy because of a malpractice. In all my 3 year of experience with GMT I have never had any complications.  Some students may have confused or misunderstood the opportunity I give them during an extraction procedure by letting them hold an extracted tooth with the forceps, or by letting them take credit of any other procedure done by me. I only try to encourage students into the dental field by assisting me in these trips in Nicaragua.

 Going back to your suggestion, students who are in their 3rd and 4th year of dental school are always welcome to assist me and treat patients under my supervision.  I have 5 years working with dental students from Loma Linda University (LLU) in California. LLU does mission trips each year to Nicaragua and I am their official dentist and coordinator. So far, I haven’t had any complaints from patients in Nicaragua, nor from volunteers.

 As a mentor to many pre dental students, I believe that these trips are a great way to know how this wonderful field is like, and to become more aware of what it takes to be a dentist. In addition, these trips also give the opportunity to the less privileged people from Nicaragua to receive dental care treatments and dental care education. In essence, having this kind of experience is a blessing.

 If you have any other inquiry with regards to the dental practice that GMT provides in Nicaragua, please do not hesitate in contacting me.

 Yours truly,

 

Dr. Karen Zapata

DDS