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Health Care-focused Students Enjoy a Community of Support

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Recognizing the benefits of connecting undergraduate students who share similar interests to form smaller communities early in their college experience, the University of Kentucky (UK) created its Living Learning Program (LLP) to provide a means for students to live and learn together in an integrated academic residential environment. Through the Interprofessional Healthcare Residential College Living Learning Community (IHRC LLC), undergraduates have a means to connect with a community of students who aspire to careers in health care. 

Bobby Helton, M.Ed., University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD) Director of Student Affairs, teaches UK 101, an academic orientation course, specifically for first-year students, in the IHRC LLC. Mr. Helton also participates in ongoing committees and working groups aimed at supporting and enhancing the IHRC.  

“IHRC is a high-impact, living-learning program designed for highly motivated students who have a passion for health care. The IHRC is the perfect way for future health care professionals to immerse themselves in health care. Through connected coursework and co-curricular activities, students in the program enjoy an array of benefits, including smaller class sizes, enhanced study groups, networking, research and shadowing. IHRC students also gain special access to unique, health care-related opportunities, including undergraduate research, service-learning, and networking opportunities with faculty and clinicians, as well as a dedicated team of live-in peer mentors.”     

UK LLP_March 2023 BDE

University of Kentucky College of Dentistry students during a group suture exercise. Credit: UKCD.

In addition to Mr. Helton’s involvement, UKCD provides the IHRC funding every year to support the program’s mission and the UKCD Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Emily Winfrey, D.M.D., serves on the program’s advisory board.  

“IHRC is a great example of how interprofessional collaboration is so much more than the sum of its parts. For UKCD, IHRC is a pipeline for talent and diversity. Nearly a third of students in IHRC are underrepresented, as defined by race, ethnicity and/or nationality, and nearly a quarter are first-generation students. For students, IHRC is an opportunity to live and learn in community, explore various health care fields, and gain valuable experience in preparation for future health care success. The results speak volumes: IHRC students have a higher retention rate and higher GPA when compared to other LLPs, as well as those living on campus and off campus,” notes Dr. Winfrey.

Rachel Dent, a UKCD D.M.D. student, participated in the IHRC LLC, sharing, “I was involved with the IHRC during my freshman year from the fall 2018 to spring 2019 semester. I knew from the start that I wanted to pursue dentistry, but the IHRC helped me confirm that. I was able to explore several different health professions through shadowing, tours and volunteer experiences hosted by the IHRC. Learning more about various health professions helped me confirm that dentistry was the right path for me. Some of my favorite events were the suture clinic and dental hygiene promotion to preschoolers at the Woodland Early Learning Center.” 

“Living with and taking foundational classes with other pre-professional students definitely gave me an advantage when applying to dental school. I was surrounded by a network of support from my peers and resources that were specific to health care students. It also helped that everyone was going through similar struggles together,” added Ms. Dent.  

More information on UK’s IHRC LLP is available at here.

Courtesy of University of Kentucky College of Dentistry

Published on March 8, 2023

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