February 02, 2017
Guin Robinson and Tim Parker February 2, 2017 | Amy Bickers

Hands-on experience is the not-so-secret secret to mastering any skill. At the UAB School of Dentistry, a significant amount of lab time prepares students for their third and fourth years of study, when the Comprehensive Care Clinic allows them to put classroom knowledge to work.

“Something about working with your hands really makes it stick,” says Mechay Rush, a dental student from Clay, Alabama. “The Latin writer Syrus once said, ‘Practice is the best of all instructors.’ In the third and fourth years, the clinic becomes our home.”

Every dentist who has graduated from the School of Dentistry has trained in the Comprehensive Care Clinic. Former students may know it as the Second Floor Clinic. Former students also may find that the space isn’t much different than it was in their day.

The clinic hasn’t been fully renovated since the 1970s. While new dental chairs have been purchased and the sterilization facilities have been upgraded, the clinic looks much as it did 40 years ago.

A $2 million renovation will update the space to reflect the state-of-the-art teaching that goes on at the School of Dentistry. Renovation will include new flooring, new cabinetry, and a new look that will reflect the art deco character of the building. Refurbished dental chairs, a new sterilizer, and enhanced lighting will further modernize the clinic.

In the clinic, third- and fourth-year students work in teams with two dedicated faculty group managers and additional faculty members who provide specialized skills. The interactive hands-on learning environment provides the best possible care for patients while training students in the contemporary concepts of oral health care.

Mac Hendrix, a dental student from Hartselle, Alabama, was looking forward to the clinical portion of his education so he could apply the knowledge he’s gained in the classroom.

“The clinic reinforces what we’ve learned up to this point,” he says. “As with any profession or trade, learning is best with hands-on experience on the equipment we’ll use when we graduate. The clinic truly prepares us to be practicing dentists.”

The renovated clinic will continue UAB School of Dentistry’s long history of providing patients from the Birmingham area with high-quality care at a reduced cost. The Comprehensive Care Clinic provides multidisciplinary dental care, including: implant restorations; periodontics (gum disease); operative dentistry (fillings); fixed prosthodontics (crowns and bridges); removable prosthodontics (dentures and partials); and oral surgery (extractions).

Dwight King, a student from Los Angeles, said the clinic allows students to see the impact of dentistry on patients’ lives.

“I’ve had great opportunities to learn from our faculty,” he says. “They have done a tremendous job of giving us knowledge and perspective. The clinic environment helps us see the importance of that knowledge to the patients, allowing us to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.”

For more information about how to support the School of Dentistry and to learn more about naming opportunities in the Comprehensive Care Clinic, contact Jeremy Ward, Director of Development, at jward7@uab.edu or 205-996-6786.