Back to News

Faculty Spotlight: Tammy Swecker

“My students' reflections tell the stories of patients who have never had a ‘cleaning’ in their lifetime - and they are 50 years old; or about calming a dental phobic so treatment could be given,” said Tammy Swecker, associate professor of dental hygiene in the VCU School of Dentistry.  “These reflections tell the success of service-learning and how we make a difference and ‘Make it Real’ every day.”

A graduate of the VCU School of Dentistry, Swecker has spent most of her career as a dental hygienist in public health dentistry and is passionate about the positive impact service-learning has on students.

With more than 14 community partners, Swecker and her students help to meet the dental hygiene needs of underserved populations in Virginia, bridging the gap in care for the underinsured and uninsured.

Each fall since 2009, VCU dental hygiene students partner with the Salvation Army to provide dental screenings to dentally underserved Virginians. In 2011, the Salvation Army Community Outreach Program was awarded the “Exemplary University Community Partnership in Teaching and Learning” by the Council for Community Engagement.

“In order to prepare dental hygiene students for a dynamic interdisciplinary healthcare system, I encourage students to explore practice in a variety of settings and with culturally diverse patients of all ages and health statuses,” Swecker said. “Service-learning enhances students’ time management, work ethic and habits, professionalism and clinical skills. I know my students are better prepared for the workforce because of our community partnerships.”

For more information, contact Swecker at

As part of the DCE’s 10th anniversary, the division is profiling VCU faculty members who are committed to community engagement. Learn more at