Eager to live and serve in a rural community
With just 39 students in her high school graduating class, Jennifer Enich could play any varsity sport she wanted, beginning in eighth grade. There were no try-outs and everyone was encouraged to participate.
“The opportunities and the encouragement were huge,” said Enich, who grew up in Side Lake, Minnesota, and attended Chisholm High School. “I am who I am today because of the people in my small community.”
The fourth-year dental student has fond memories of a close-knit community where people cared for each other and one person’s success was cause for community celebration. Enich and her sister would often walk a few blocks to their father’s dental practice after school to wait for their ride home. It was there she observed all aspects of running a dental office, from patient care to patient scheduling to equipment purchasing to lab work to insurance billing.
Enich attended University of Minnesota Duluth for her undergraduate education, and is currently doing a four-week clinical rotation in Willmar, Minnesota, where the School of Dentistry partners with Carris Health Center to provide health and dental care to the community. She did an earlier rotation in Hibbing, which also helped to prepare her for a return to Northern Minnesota as a dentist next year.
“I have now lived in a small town, a medium sized city and the Twin Cities, and these experiences have affirmed my desire to live in a small community,” said Enich, who plans to return to her part-time role as a ski patrol at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik, Minn. Next year. “One of the hardest parts about dental school has been my limited access to the outdoor activities and lake life that I love.”
She is looking forward to serving her community in a new way. “People in every community deserve high quality dental care,” she said.
Because the School of Dentistry has a strong commitment to community outreach, every student in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program is required to provide supervised care in wide variety of settings including ten weeks in areas designated as underserved. In addition, every student has the option to work in a rural dental clinic for three weeks during the summer months in year 2 or 3, shadowing an experienced dentist.