RIDE students

RIDE: Frequently Asked Questions

What is it like to be a RIDE student?

  • RIDE students receive their first year of dental education in Spokane at Eastern Washington University (EWU).
  • RIDE students generally work in small groups with more direct faculty interaction.
  • RIDE students interact closely with medical and dental hygiene students, and health professionals while on community rotations.
  • RIDE students participate in some classes via distance learning using videoconferencing and learning management systems such as Canvas. Other multimedia technologies used are streaming video and course recording.
  • RIDE students spend more time on external rotations in community health center dental clinics.
  • RIDE students are exposed to professional and lifestyle opportunities in smaller, rural communities.

Where do RIDE students attend their first year of dental school?
Students go to the EWU Spokane campus located in downtown Spokane. The Health Sciences Building, which houses the Department of Dental Hygiene, and the Academic Services Buildings are the main locations of most of the teaching activities for RIDE students. The campus has state of the art facilities and is in a great location.

Where do students attend their second, third, and fourth years of dental school?
All students complete their second and third years together at the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UWSOD) in Seattle. Fourth year RIDE students spend approximately half the year in Seattle and the other half participating in extended rotations at affiliated community health center dental clinics.

Who will be teaching in Spokane?
All faculty teaching in the RIDE program are affiliate faculty of the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Their primary appointments are with Eastern Washington University. EWU faculty bios➜

How are courses taught using distance learning technology?
Depending on structure and content, many courses are delivered using distance learning modalities. To ensure equivalency of education, all UWSOD first year courses are taught in partnership with EWU RIDE faculty. Common syllabi, tests, and exam questions are coordinated between the course directors.

When first year UWSOD Seattle and RIDE schedules align, didactic courses are generally simulcast using videoconferencing technology and the UW and EWU faculty jointly teach the class. When schedules are not aligned, Seattle courses are recorded and posted to course websites where RIDE students can access the materials at their convenience. In this instance, EWU faculty are there to lecture, answer questions, and offer review sessions.

During the fourth year while on extended rotations at community health center dental clinics, RIDE students are connected to their didactic courses via videoconferencing using the distance learning network at the sites.

How are housing logistics determined?
RIDE students are responsible for finding their own housing during their time at EWU Spokane and UWSOD Seattle. During the clinical rotations, the RIDE program helps place students in housing and offers financial assistance when applicable.

Is RIDE family friendly?
Yes, many RIDE students have families. Although there are several relocations involved with this program, we work with students to find appropriate placements to accommodate families.

Can RIDE students bring their family with them during rotations?
Yes, RIDE students can bring their families with them while on rotation. Housing is arranged to accommodate family needs.

Are there differences between the first year RIDE curriculum and what students are taught in Seattle? Although there may be variations in the order of subjects and methods utilized, first year RIDE and Seattle based courses are equivalent. Since RIDE students take some courses with hygiene students and medical students, they likely receive more academic content overall when compared with their Seattle colleagues. In addition, all RIDE students participate in community-based rotations after their first year and extended rotations in their fourth year.

Is the RIDE program easier or harder?
Probably neither, just different. The RIDE program has an emphasis on interdisciplinary, small-group learning and community experiences when compared with the traditional curriculum at the UWSOD.

Is tuition different for the RIDE program?
No, tuition is the same for all UWSOD students.

Are there any disadvantages to being in the RIDE program?
Geographic separation from the larger dental school class during the first year and for part of the fourth year of dental school might be considered a disadvantage to some. However, spending five weeks in Seattle at the beginning of first year during Early Clinical Immersion allows the RIDE students to connect to the Seattle-based students before they move to Spokane. In addition, the eight RIDE students (per cohort) have the benefit of a small-group learning environment and participate in interdisciplinary groups with dental hygiene and medical students. Another perceived disadvantage might be the need to re-locate to Seattle after the first year in Spokane.

How will RIDE students work with underserved patients during their first and fourth years?
After their first year, RIDE students will participate in a 4-week clinical rotation at a community health center dental clinic serving rural or underserved patients. They will also have opportunities to participate in shorter rotations after their second year (2-4 weeks). RIDE students will return to rural community health centers for 4-6 months of clinical experience during their fourth year.

Where will I do my community rotations?
Students will rotate through selected community health center (CHC) sites in Eastern Washington. All CHC’s are affiliated with the UWSOD, and all site preceptors are affiliate faculty.

Are there opportunities for RIDE students to volunteer during their first year in Spokane?
Yes, there are some volunteer opportunities during the first year. Recent examples include weekend oral heath outreach programs for area veterans and Native American children.

What does the UWSOD look for in a RIDE student?
Once applicants are accepted into the UWSOD program, those that expressed interest in RIDE are assessed for commitment to serving underserved communities and outreach in alignment with our mission. Other considerations include academic achievement, leadership, and interpersonal skills

Is the admissions process for the RIDE Program different than that of the UWSOD Seattle?
RIDE applicants undergo the same screening and interview process as UWSOD Seattle applicants. However, they complete one additional brief supplemental essay regarding their interest in the RIDE program. Admission to the RIDE program is determined after students are accepted to the UWSOD.

Is the RIDE program specifically for applicants from rural areas or small towns?
No. Anyone that shares an interest in serving rural and/or underserved areas can apply to the RIDE program. Applicants from the state of Washington are prioritized, as UWSOD is a state-funded institution.

What is the application deadline for applicants interested in RIDE?
RIDE applicants are highly encouraged to submit their application early in the process.  There are limited number of seats available for this program and it fills quickly. See DDS Admissions for more information on UWSOD application timeline.

Can I talk to a RIDE student to learn more about the program?
Yes, RIDE students look forward to connecting with applicants interested in RIDE. We will be happy  to put applicants in contact with current or previous RIDE students.