Dr. Melissa Ing teaches STEM through Mini Medical School

Do you remember your middle school anatomy class? The endless evenings spent reading page after page about cells and skeletons was a timeless, yet boring, way to learn about our bodies.

The human muscular and central nervous systems were complex subjects I grappled to understand. I struggled to keep attention in class as my teacher presented slides featuring charts and diagrams of muscle groups and functions I could only abstractly and vaguely comprehend. 

Dr. Melissa Ing, an associate professor in the Dept. of Comprehensive Care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, employs a unique approach when she teaches. Dr. Ing (shown above, instructed a middle school student) manages, orchestrates and creates real-life scenarios about subjects related to health and dentistry through the Mini Medical School program she organized to teach middle school children at Boston’s Museum of Science.

Dr. Melissa Ing, an associate professor in the Dept. of Comprehensive Care at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (shown at right), and her team instruct students about STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) topics before delving into interactive medical investigations and procedures. Photos Courtesy Dr. Melissa Ing

“We teach kids the components of a blood vessel and have them build a vessel using different sized red buttons and white marshmallows to represent white blood cells. We teach them about dental forensics and how it can be used to solve a crime.”

Dr. Melissa Ing describes the lessons she teaches on STEM topics.

“Who Stole All the Toothbrushes?” is an activity where students use medical investigation techniques to solve a mystery. Students do more than listen to lectures; they are fully engaged and active participants in the program.

“We made little plots to go with it, and clues, so that the kids can try and learn about forensics. For instance, a fingerprint, a piece of hair, teeth marks, bite marks, saliva, a lip print on a glass…” says Dr. Ing.

She and her team use a problem-based approach and create situations that students must solve using appropriate medical techniques and procedures. 

“Then, for the next module, a Good Samaritan passenger trips over a piece of luggage at the airport breaking his arm. We teach the kids how to cast a broken arm.”

Her students’ favorite lesson: one where they learn how to suture a wound. Of course, they don’t suture a real, live participant, instead they use bananas. 

Dr. Melissa Ing, shown fourth from right, with her Mini Medical School team of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine students and faculty members. Photos Courtesy Dr. Melissa Ing

“The kids are given masks, gowns and gloves, so they have a great time as a doctor for the day. They sometimes can’t stop stitching the bananas and will name their bananas afterward, which is really funny.”

Students of Dr. Melissa Ing learn how to suture a wound using a banana as their patients.

Dr. Ing isn’t alone. She enlists a team of dental students and faculty members who help make the Mini Medical School possible. 

In 2015, she started the program in Boston, but two years ago, she set sail and took the program to Nantucket Island Public Schools, a school district on an isolated island where students have limited resources to learn about STEM fields—which are occupations that encompass Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. 

The Mini Medical School operates on grant funding and the kindness of volunteers who help make it possible, although when she first visited the school district in 2017, the school didn’t have a grant to pay for the program. Luckily, the town helped the school secure the funds.

The following year, the Nantucket school district received a donation from Innovation Pathways, an award granted by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, that enabled Dr. Ing and her colleagues to visit a second time.

At Nantucket Island Public School, students use medical instruments and learn how they help industry professionals every day. Photos Courtesy Dr. Melissa Ing

Dr. Ing draws on nearly 30 years of dental experience. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

After completing her studies, Dr. Ing built and operated her own private practice and taught at the University of Connecticut. Shortly after, she became a full-time employee at UConn, where she held various positions, such as Team Leader and Director of Predoctoral Clinics. After 20 years there, she secured an associate professor position at her alma mater—Tufts University—and began teaching in 2011.

What’s next for Dr. Melissa Ing’s Mini Medical School?

The program will continue at Boston’s Museum of Science. Through grant funding, Dr. Ing and her team hope to return to Nantucket for a third year. She plans to visit Martha’s Vineyard for the first time as well, where students await the opportunity to suture bananas and learn about dental and medical professions.

STEM fields have grown to 17.3 million jobs or 79 percent since 1990, according to the Pew Research Center. Dr. Ing and her Mini Medical School are helping inspire the scientist, physicians and dentists of tomorrow.

Celebrate November, Women and Girls in STEM Month

Find out what the Museum of Science in Boston has in store for Women and Girls in STEM Month: https://www.mos.org/women-and-girls-in-stem-month

Tufts University new dental dean shares insight on mentoring

On July 1, Nadeem Karimbux, (shown, courtesy TuftsNow) an accomplished dental educator, researcher, clinician, and leader, shifted into his new role as the seventeenth dean of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. As dean, Karimbux will oversee the school’s community of more than 900 students and residents, 450 faculty, including 200 volunteer faculty, 300 staff, and 8,600 alumni, according to TuftsNow.

Karimbux has been the associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of periodontology at the School of Dental Medicine since 2012. His career spanning more than 25 years has focused on dental education, research, and clinical care.

In a recent interview with Tufts Now, the university’s site for news, events, photography, videos, and more, Karimbux explained his thoughts on mentoring:

Mentorship has been something that has been critical to my development. While I was at Harvard, I was lucky enough to work with a mentor, the dean of dental education, who gave me a lot of responsibility as a junior faculty member. I learned from my mistakes, but was also exposed to things that allowed me to develop.

I believe mentoring for students and faculty is a critical part of what we do. Ever since I’ve been at Tufts, I’ve had a cohort of four students per year that I mentor. Setting aside time to be with those students, to have dinner with them, and to listen to their stories is critical for me to understand. When they come to me to work on a research project or get some advice about career, I see the impact that you can have as a mentor.

I also work with faculty one on one, whether it’s on a new course or working on research projects. It’s allowed me to appreciate the growth that you can give to junior faculty when you spend that kind of time with them.

Nadeem Karimbux

Read more about his personal journal and hopes for the School of Dental Medicine in the article by Helene Ragovin: https://now.tufts.edu/articles/conversation-school-dental-medicine-s-new-dean

Her-story: Tufts dental student honors the legacy of perseverance that inspires

Dedication and gratitude — qualities Youstina Youssef, a dental student at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine says the white coat she wears in the photo above, signify in her life.

“This white coat symbolizes not only my dedication to this profession, but also my gratitude for strong women who continue to push forward regardless of the walls set against them,” Youstina says.

“If you know me, you know that this photo here speaks wonders to my soul. On my left, the woman (Gehan Elsousi) who bore me, brought me into this world and introduced me to life. On my right, the grandest of mothers (Gamalat Tadrous). The one who helped raise me, helped mold me into the woman I am today. The tears that run down their faces are ones I’ll treasure for the rest of my days.”

A D.M.D. candidate in the class of 2020, Youstina shares her story #lhpshareyourstory and the legacy of determination that led her to the profession of dentistry.

“I imagine Lucy Hobbs experienced a similar sensation becoming the first female to graduate from a dental school. She was denied and rejected from numerous opportunities solely based on her gender. Yet, she relentlessly pursued her goal.

My story bears a similar spirit. My mother is a single mother. She sacrificed her comfort in Egypt to move to America and give me the best life she possibly could. Soon after marrying and having me in Egypt, she moved to the States with my father who had been living here. Unfortunately, she was sent back to Egypt to stay with her family not too long after for “financial reasons”.”

‘Stranded in a new land’

Youstina describes the intimidating path her mother Gehan Elsousi faced back then.

“Upon her return to America, she was not received at the airport, which left her stranded in a new land, with no knowledge of the English language or American culture, but most importantly, with a child in her arms. She picked herself up from rejection and pushed on.”

Her grandmother Gamalat Tadrous is no less heroic.

“Years later my grandmother decided to make a similar move and left behind her husband and five of her children to help raise me while my mother worked to support us. These two women have taught me a great deal about sacrifice and have ingrained in me the power of perseverance.”

Thankful for a welcome into the world of dentistry

Youstina received her invitation to Tufts University School of Dental Medicine less than 24 hours before orientation from Dr. Jeanette Sabir-Holloway, the school’s director of outreach, recruitment and admissions.

Her reaction:

“Teary-eyed and full-hearted, I packed my bags and set off to chase my childhood dreams. And for that I say from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Lucy Hobbs Project- Dr Jeanette Sabir Holloway
Dr. Jeanette Sabir-Holloway, as featured in Incisal Edge winter edition as the 2018 Lucy Hobbs Project Mentor Award recipient. (Incisal Edge/Alonso Nichols)

Share a Lucy Hobbs Project Award nomination

Nominate before April 26 deadline: https://www.judgify.me/LHP-nominations2019

Annually, Benco Dental pays tribute to the first woman in the U.S. to receive a dental degree – Dr. Lucy Hobbs — by honoring six pioneering women in the dental profession with an award created in her name: The Lucy Hobbs Project™ Awards.

At Benco’s annual Lucy Hobbs Project Celebration (Save the Date for October 3 – 5, 2019 in Chicago!), the dental community is invited to honor award recipients in six categories:

  • Woman to Watch: An up-and-coming leader who utilizes her position to create positive change,
  • Industry Icon: A trailblazer who is consistently recognized and admired for her work in dentistry,
  • Mentor: An advisor who recognizes the importance of supporting, educating and encouraging others,
  • Innovator: A groundbreaker who demonstrates a willingness to implement new technologies and business processes without fear of potential failure,
  • Humanitarian: An altruist who works tirelessly for a cause that benefits the well-being of others, and
  • Clinical Expert: A skillful practitioner who embraces advancements and integrates them into patient care.

Individuals and organizations are invited to submit nominations. Self-nominations are accepted.

Nominate before April 26 deadline: https://www.judgify.me/LHP-nominations2019

March is Women’s History Month 

As Dr. Jeanette Sabir-Holloway and Youstina Youssef have shared their stories, so have many others in celebration of Women’s History Month. Learn more here: https://womenshistory.si.edu/

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.

 

 

 

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