Clinic in a suitcase.

CAPTION: On the job in Mainpat, Surguja District, Chhattisgarh State, India, Katie Moynihan and her Northern Arizona University team (four hygiene students, one faculty member and one dentist) performed 600 cleanings, prepared 231 glass ionomer fillings and completed 48 extractions over a two-week span (their Christmas break) at 7 refugee camps and the Tsori Monastery School for Tibetans.

For 22-year-old Katie Moynihan, a recent humanitarian venture to rural India featured striking similarities to a bygone era when young Lucy Hobbs apprenticed in 1866 to become the first licensed female dentist.

“We knew what we were going into, so we kind of prepared ourselves. With no electricity, we all wore headlamps or loop lights. No suction?  That was difficult, but we just let patients rinse with water and spit it into a cup. No chairs for them or seats for us? We either laid patients on a bench and knelt behind them, or we seated them in a plastic outdoor chair and we stood. You just have to be flexible with what you have.”

Although the Gilbert, Ariz. dental hygienist sounds surprisingly seasoned, she confesses of a slight case of the jitters prior to her Multidisciplinary Global Learning Project: a 2012 service trip to a Tibetan refugee camp organized through the Northern Arizona University College of Health and Human Service.

Find out why Moynihan says she’d return to Mainpat in a heartbeat and plans future altruistic ventures with her mom  Dr. Amy Jessel in an Incisal Edge feature ‘Fourteen Days Near Tibet’ : http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/636592a9#/636592a9/18