Charmaine Ng, DMD, ’09 has been committed to serving the underserved since she volunteered for a student-run free dental clinic as an undergraduate student at University of California San Diego. This passion for service led her to A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) to pursue a career in dentistry.
“The core of my decision to become a dentist was that I wanted to help people,” said Dr. Ng. “I was looking for a dental school that really embodied mission-driven service. ATSU-ASDOH seemed like the perfect fit.”
Dr. Ng was so inspired by her educational experience at ATSU-ASDOH, she continued to serve on the School’s alumni board for six years after graduation.
“I served for so long, I actually termed out,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done that had I not felt strongly about my education there.”
As a dentist, Dr. Ng is dedicated to living ATSU-ASDOH’s mission. She is the founding director of the dental program at HealthRIGHT 360, a community health center in San Francisco. Most of her patients are experiencing homelessness or struggling with other barriers to quality healthcare.
“We’re just trying to increase access to care for the people who need it most,” she said.
The innovative health center offers integrated services, balancing medical, dental, and behavioral health. Many patients benefit from the full spectrum of care. For example, patients with diabetes may also have gum disease, while those with substance abuse disorders likely have medical, dental, and behavioral manifestations.
“Integration between medical and dental still has a long way to go, but everyone should be striving to do this,” she said. “It’s just better quality care for the patient. It’s whole person care.”
Dr. Ng built HealthRIGHT 360’s dental program from the ground up in just four months. It launched in January 2018. In its first year, the program has already had a big impact on the community. Appointments are booked out for weeks, which speaks to the need for similar programs in the area.
Dr. Ng plans to expand the program to better meet the needs of the community. True to the mission of ATSU-ASDOH, she is committed to a career in service.
“There’s always more to be done,” she said. “My heart is in public health.”