When history recounts the tremendous efforts of hundreds of Creighton health care faculty, students and alumni to vaccinate the community against the ills of the COVID-19 virus, Creighton dentistry will have a place in that conversation.
With a need for inoculators at the Creighton clinic, dental faculty and students – already well-versed in caring for patients and administering injections in the mouth – received special training from Creighton nursing faculty to give a welcomed shot in the arm to the clinic’s service and its patients.
“Creighton does a good job of teaching us the Jesuit value of taking care of the whole person, or cura personalis,” says Jonathan Dang, a dental student from Honolulu, Hawaii, who will graduate next May. “While dentists typically treat the mouth, Creighton dentists are trained to consider the whole person.”
With that charge, he jumped at the chance to learn how to administer the vaccine. “It was a neat interdisciplinary experience,” he says.
Dang also attended Creighton for his undergraduate education, earning a degree in biology in 2018. Creighton is something of a family affair for Dang. His sister, Christie, earned her biology degree in 2017, and graduated from the dental school this May. Their father, Lawrence Dang, DDS’88, who owns Dang Dental Office in Honolulu, is also a Creighton dental graduate, as was their late grandfather, Herbert Dang, DDS’54.
Joining Dang at this particular Saturday clinic was dental classmate Hasan Lari, BS’18, from Kuwait, along with dental faculty and instructors Frank Sleder, DDS, Susan Sutton, RDH, and Jessica Wulf, RDH.
“This is important because I want to do my part to fight and end this pandemic, and to give service to the community,” says Lari, who hasn’t returned home to Kuwait since the pandemic started.
Sleder, Sutton and Wulf expressed similar sentiments.
“I feel like all of our population should have the vaccine,” says Sutton, a registered dental hygienist and an adjunct instructor at Creighton. “The faster we can get people vaccinated, the better. And I wanted to play a role in that.”
“I’ve known many people who have had the virus, and had a range of reactions – from mild cold symptoms to having to be hospitalized,” says Wulf, also a registered dental hygienist, who recently joined Creighton as an adjunct instructor.
Sleder says he’s enjoyed talking with those visiting the clinic and learning their stories. “That’s what I like about dentistry, you get to talk to people,” Sleder says. And he’s been impressed by Creighton’s student volunteers, from across the University. “The last time I was here, there was a group of EMS students, and they were loading syringes for six hours. There was never a complaint. That’s dedication.”
Dang says interacting with the guests has been a wonderful experience.
“It’s been really fun volunteering here; there’s a good vibe,” he says. “Some of the patients are a little bit scared, but after the shot is given, they’re like, ‘That’s it.’ That’s the best feeling ever.”