Students Share Unique China Externship Experiences

(l-r) Dr. Laisheng Chou, Erik Harriman, Alena Mehtani, Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter, Erica Weinberg, Grant Murray, and Dr. Michelle Henshaw

On January 17, 2014, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) DMD 14 students Alena Mehtani, Erica Weinberg, Erik Harriman, and Grant Murray gave a presentation to a packed classroom G-301 on their two-week international externship to two world-renowned institutions for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS) located in China.

The October 2013 trip commenced an expansion of GSDM’s Global Elective Externship program to include an exchange program with two institutions in China: Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Stomatology (SJUSS), located in Shanghai, and the Fourth Military Medical University School of Stomatology (FMMUSS), located in Xi’an.

Professor and Director of the Division of Oral Medicine Dr. Laisheng Chou serves as the GSDM program leader. Professor in the Department of Health Policy & Health Services Research and Associate Dean for Global & Population Health Dr. Michelle Henshaw accompanied the students on the externship.

For their presentation, the students, in turn, described all aspects of their unforgettable trip, including clinical, social, and cultural experiences. Murray stressed the uniqueness of their clinical environment. He spoke with awe of being in a hospital with four floors for OMFS. Weinberg talked about the experience in terms of her interest in pediatric dentistry, noting that the trip is valuable even to those interested in specialties outside of OMFS. She illustrated this with a photo from the trip of herself carrying a baby who’d just had a cleft palate surgery. Harriman and Mehtani presented some of the fascinating cases of rare conditions they saw and learned about on the trip.

The students also reflected on the influence of culture on the overall nature of treatment in China. They witnessed a robust sense of camaraderie between all levels of staff in the operating room. They also noted the systematic nature of treatment.

Mehtani, Weinberg, Harriman, and Murray fielded questions from the audience regarding the procedures they observed, the prevalence of certain conditions, and about clinical culture they experienced, among other topics.

Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter, who attended the students’ presentation, said, “It was a pleasure to hear about Alena, Erica, Erik, and Grant’s unforgettable trip.” He continued, “I am very proud that students from our School were able to have this truly unique clinical and cultural experience as we expand the global presence of the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.”

In conclusion, the students gave glowing recommendations of the trip and welcomed anyone with interest in the externship to contact them. Students interested in international externships can also contact Elizabeth Anatori of Global & Population Health at or 617-638-4674.

Photos from the trip are available on Facebook and Flickr.