The Dentistry in Service to Communities Program, or DISC, is a community-based extramural service learning program. The program is operated collaboratively by the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) and the Adams School of Dentistry.
The DISC program began in the early 1970s and remains a national model for community based service learning. DISC provides students with supervised experiences in the delivery of dental care to vulnerable and underserved populations in both urban and rural settings. All rising fourth-year DDS students are required to participate in two four-week community and/or hospital-based DISC rotations, for a total of eight weeks during the summer between their third and fourth year of study.
Through DISC, students begin to view their patients more holistically as people whose dental needs cannot be separated from the multiple social determinants that impact an individual’s oral health status.
The DISC rotation is part of learners’ fourth-year dental school experience, although optional extramural experiences are available earlier in the curriculum. Rotation sites may include, but are not limited to, county health departments, state institutions and correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, community health centers, military bases, Veterans Administration, and hospitals.
DDS students provide approximately $3.5 million in dental services to underserved populations in North Carolina through the DISC program each year.