A Week in the Life of a Volunteer DVI Dentist

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Mark Cohen lands in Israel on Friday morning, hires a taxi, or joins a Nesher shuttle to Jerusalem. He has a map, directions, and the key to his DVI apartment with him, which we sent him earlier. He arrives at the apartment at 12 pm on Friday. The apartment has just been cleaned, and there are linens and towels for his family and guests. The renovated kitchen is equipped with basic pots, pans, dishes and cutlery.

Mark and his family spend Shabbat walking around the historic old city of Jerusalem. On Sunday morning, a DVI staff member picks up Mark from his apartment and shows him the way to the clinic. Mark tours the clinic, meets the dental assistants, and receives an orientation from Dr. Petel, the dental director.

Then, the work begins. One child after another is seated by the dental assistant in the operatory to which Mark has been assigned. The assistant tells Mark the treatment planned for the day, and Mark commences to provide care. The dental assistant guides Mark in providing treatment according to the procedures and standards at DVI. If there is a difference of opinion as to procedural methods or materials, or a deviation from the treatment plan, the dental assistant seeks consultation with Dr. Petel or the other supervising pediatric dentist in the clinic. This assures a measure of continuity and consistency of care to the patients, even as they are being treated by a number of different dentists over the course of their DVI experience. Once Dr. Cohen understands the rationale and accepts the DVI protocol, the day becomes very enjoyable.

Dr. Cohen treats a wide range of patients, including a 7 year-old Ethiopian girl, an 18 year old native Israeli, a family of Arab children aged 6, 9, and 13, and two Ultra-Orthodox siblings aged 14 and 17. Dr. Cohen introduces himself to each child, asks them about their day, how old they are, and what they want to be when they grow up. Patients who are new to the clinic look at him in wonderment, never having been spoken to like this by an adult before.

Each day after work, Dr. Cohen and his family set up different activities with the help of the DVI staff – taking the Wailing Wall tunnel tour, dining at acclaimed restaurants, walking through the renowned Open Air Market (Shuk), visiting the Israel Museum, and more.

On Thursday, Mark’s last day of volunteering, the clinic hosts a small party for him, to thank him for the huge difference he has made in his patients’ lives this past week. He receives a “Press Kit” with a volunteering certificate, brochures for recruiting dentists, and more.

On Friday, Mark leaves the apartment at 9:30am for a weekend in Tel Aviv, before flying home on Sunday.

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