During the fourth year, students participate in a distinguishing component of the curriculum: a ten-week extramural experience. The externship rotation, a required course in the pre-doctoral curriculum, exposes students to alternative clinical settings and different modes of treatment and instruction and to the needs of a variety of patient populations. Students choose from more than 24 extramural sites affiliated with the School, extending from the East Coast to the West Coast. For some students, the externship provides an opportunity to spend time closer to home; for others, it is a time for exploring a part of the country they might not otherwise have visited. The externship plays a vital role in the curriculum by providing students with an opportunity to enhance their clinical, interpersonal, and patient management skills in a more independent setting. Students develop a professional relationship with their externship preceptors who provide instruction, support, and guidance throughout their extramural experience.

Extramural settings include military installations, veterans affairs hospitals, community health centers, and major medical centers located throughout the United States. Each site has at least one preceptor who functions as teacher and clinician while supervising the student’s overall experience. During their externship, students strengthen their skills in clinical diagnosis, treatment planning, practice management, and emergency care while providing a wide range of oral health care services to patients. Students get experience developing a case presentation using digital photography. Students will have an opportunity to be involved in public health activities such as elder care, school-based projects, developing dental awareness materials, and oral cancer screenings.