Physicians for Peace Volunteer Dental Team Supports Nicaraguan University

Experts from Old Dominion University will present lectures and assist with university-level curriculum

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PFP volunteers Kendra Kleppe and Gayle McCombs in Nicaragua in 2010.

NORFOLK, VA (06/29/2011)(readMedia)-- A Norfolk-based team of dental professionals will be in Nicaragua in July to support an initiative to create the country's first dental hygiene program, at the Universidad Autónoma (UNAN) in Leon.

During the two-week mission, Gayle McCombs and Tara Newcomb, faculty members in Old Dominion University's School of Dental Hygiene, and Kendra Kleppe, a graduate student, will present lectures, develop curriculum and assess the country's dental hygiene needs, on behalf of Physicians for Peace, an international nonprofit headquartered in Norfolk.

"The more help and expertise we can lend to the project, the more successful it will be in the long run," said McCombs, director of ODU's Dental Hygiene Research Center and Dental Hygiene Graduate Program. "The main objective of the next mission is to present the curriculum to the dental school faculty and work with health officials as we move toward the implementation of the first dental hygiene program. A few years from now, I hope to be present as the first class of dental hygienists graduate."

The mission represents an important step forward in the program development at UNAN-Leon. Physicians for Peace also helped create a dental assistant program at the university; that program launched in the 2011 academic year. On the July mission, the team will help UNAN-Leon faculty, local dentists and Nicaraguan healthcare officials gain perspective on the long-term role a dental hygiene program might have in improving oral health in Nicaragua.

To schedule an interview with a team member, or to learn more about Physicians for Peace, please contact Mary Westbrook.


Physicians for Peace transforms lives by training, supporting and empowering healthcare professionals working with the world's underserved populations. Since 1989, volunteers have conducted medical missions in more than 60 countries. Find us online at and Follow us on Twitter, Physician4Peace.