Committed to Meeting Great Need
Alex Dorrough, Touro College of Dental Medicine, ‘20
Alex is part of the first class to graduate from Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM), the newest dental school in the country founded to harness advancements in digital dentistry for the good of the community. With school’s campus and clinic closed due to coronavirus, the 103 graduates of the TCDM’s Inaugural Class of 2020 will celebrate their historic commencement virtually May 19 before beginning residencies or joining private practices across the country.
Special Needs General Practice Residency, Helen Hayes Hospital, West Haverstraw, NY
One of the key values that Alex Dorrough takes from his time at Touro College of Dental Medicine is an extraordinary commitment to people in need. “There’s such a high degree of empathy and compassion at Touro, an expectation that no matter who we were treating, we do our absolute best,” says Alex. “Our patients are people who need our services, and we’ve been trained to provide those services to the best of our ability.”
He will put that value into practice at his residency treating patients with special needs at Helen Hayes Hospital in Rockland County, a full service facility for people with physical, developmental and psychiatric challenges. “From all the faculty members at TCDM, I always got the feeling that that the buck stops here: whatever you need, I’m going to make sure it happens. I’m going to bring that accountability and commitment to Helen Hayes.”
While at TCDM, Alex brought that commitment to patients with special needs during a rotation with the Westchester Institute for Human Development. The institute, located on the New York Medical College campus, provides comprehensive healthcare, including oral care, to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The rotation is one of several avenues for TCDM students to serve their community outside the walls of the school’s clinic, providing valuable real-life experiences with patients in a variety of settings including hospitals, federally qualified health centers and mobile dental units.
At Helen Hayes, Alex will be able to provide complete care, including, if necessary, treating the patient in the operating room. “We are able to go from start to finish, intubation, anesthesia, all the way to the end,” Alex explains. “There is truly great need for these services.” In fact, Alex says, the hospital has a long waiting list for its operating room services, illustrating just how much need there is in the special needs community for dental healthcare.
Alex is looking forward to working with patients across the full scope of their treatment. This builds on what he learned at Touro in class and in clinic, focusing on a complete dental plan, individually designed for each patient’s needs. “The idea of a complete plan is something they emphasize at Touro,” he says. “This means having a complete idea of what the patient’s needs are—understanding not just that they need crowns but knowing why they need crowns and when to give them crowns so the crowns will last longer.”
Alex, who plans to pursue pediatric dentistry after his residency, first felt the pull of treating people with special needs when he spent time in high school volunteering at a special needs orphanage in China and discovered how rewarding it was. Over the course of his career in pediatric dentistry, he expects to continue treating patients with special needs—a population he loves serving.
“I enjoy their honesty. If they don’t want something, you know about it,” he says. “Even though we’re all different, essentially people are all the same. We’re all looking to do our best for the people we care about.” For him, that’s his patients.
During quarantine, Alex has returned home to his parents’ once-empty nest in Glastonbury, CT, happy to be with his family again. After first quarantining in the basement for two weeks, he then “moved upstairs to join the land of the living—and get better wifi,” he jokes. This, however, was not the move he expected to be making at this point in his life: he had to postpone upcoming wedding plans, due to the coronavirus. But while he and his fiancée, a fellow TCDM classmate, head to different locations as she begins a residency in the Bronx and plans to specialize in orthodontics, they remain committed to their joint vision for the future, going into practice together.