Joan Gluch: Community Connector Award

caption: Joan GluchPenn Dental Medicine’s Joan Gluch, division chief of community oral health and professor of clinical community oral health, was recognized by the Penn Community Scholars Program with its Community Connector Award, presented for exemplary leadership in community-academic partnerships. The award was presented April 26 as part of the annual Penn Community Scholars Program Symposium.

Dr. Gluch, who has been a member of the School’s faculty since 1992, has been the leading force in expanding the community outreach programs at Penn Dental Medicine and its academically based service-learning courses through community partnerships. Students presently devote at least 134 hours to academically based community service learning over their four years, ensuring a significant experience in providing oral health education and dental care in community settings; approximately 20,000 individuals are served annually through the School’s community programs.

The division of community oral health has been working with the School District of Philadelphia since 1994 on the PennSmiles program to provide oral health education, and since 2003, dental care aboard the PennSmiles bus. In addition, Dr. Gluch has established partnerships with community-based clinics where students and faculty provide dental care at the Mercy LIFE Center for the elderly, Sayre Health Center, and Philadelphia FIGHT, and beginning this fall, at Puentes de Salud serving Latino immigrants. Through collaboration with other Penn schools, Penn Dental Medicine students also provide oral health education, dental screenings, and referral for dental care at University-based interdisciplinary care clinics, including Homeless Health Initiative , Puentes de Salud, United Community Clinic and University City Hospitality Coalition.

Dr. Gluch also oversees the School’s Community Health Honors program and serves as program faculty for the interprofessional education program, Bridging the Gaps.