Campus, News

Goldman School of Dental Medicine launches healthy relationship initiative

The Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, which became the first graduate school to offer One Love workshops to educate students on healthy and unhealthy relationships. BRIAN SONG/ DFP FILE

The Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine Office of Student Affairs launched an initiative this year with the One Love Foundation to educate first and second-year dental students on healthy relationships and warning signs of relationship abuse.

The Office of Student Affairs implemented an August workshop as a mandatory part of first-year orientation, as well as an October workshop for the class of 2022.

The One Love Foundation was founded in 2010 by the family of Yeardley Love, a student at the University of Virginia who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. It aims to educate young people on the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and open a conversation about healthy relationship behaviors and warning signs of abuse.

As of 2015, the foundation’s educational workshops have reached 741,000 people and have been implemented in high schools, colleges and graduate schools nationwide, according to their website.

One Love Foundation Operations Manager Kiki Yannantuono wrote in an email that, although other graduate schools in the country have implemented the One Love workshop, GSDM may be the first dental school to do so.

Joseph Calabrese, the GDSM associate dean of students, said adding the workshop to first-year orientation was inspired by first hand experiences with dental students.

“In Student Affairs, we interact with our students every single day,” Calabrese said. “And based on some of the experiences we’ve encountered, we thought it was important to offer this type of programming to our dental students.”

Erica Stock, director of student affairs at GDSM, said that the goal of implementing the workshop was not only to empower and educate GSDM students on healthy relationships and behaviors, but also to give them the tools to recognize signs of abuse in their future patients.

“It is important for their own health,” Stock said, “and for the health of their future patients to be able to identify these types of behaviors, especially when providing patient care.”

Stock said the school will survey students on the effectiveness of the program.

“We also plan to evaluate the students who have been through the training to ensure we’re delivering this important message in a way that is appropriate and that resonates with graduate and professional students,” Stock said.

A survey about the workshop found 97 percent of first and second year students believe that other graduate and professional students should experience the One Love Foundation program and receive training. Based on this success, the Office of Student Affairs plans to continue implementing the workshop annually for first-year students.

Kathleen Parr, a first-year GSDM student, said she appreciated the focus of the workshop on topics that are relevant to her field and hopes that GSDM will place even greater emphasis on these topics during future workshops.

“When you’re a dentist in the office, a lot of times you’ll be one of the first people to see abuse like bruises on the neck,” Parr said. “I told them to go more into depth about how to handle it because what if I see that and I don’t know what to do.”

Parr also noted that she had never thought of recognizing signs of abuse as an important training for dentists.

Kristen Forehand, a first-year GSDM student, said she has been to One Love workshops before at her undergraduate institution, but appreciated that GSDM adapted the program to be of greater relevance to incoming dental students.

“Dr. Calabrese knew that a lot of us had been through [One Love workshops] so he did try to change it up a little bit, which was nice.” Forehand said. “I think it was a good thing, especially implementing it for older students who are actually going through these things.”

Ana Mateo, a fourth-year GDSM student, said that, while she did not experience the workshop, she supports its mission at GDSM.

“I think it’s amazing.” said Mateo. “I think it’s something that we all need to know, so I hope they keep implementing it every year.”

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