International Student Exchange Program Building Global Connection


Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine is building on its international engagement around the globe through its international dental student exchange program. Since restarting this initiative post-pandemic, the program has been expanded and restructured, providing an immersive experience for visiting students.

“When we revived the program following the pandemic, our goal was to take it to the next level,” says Dr. Uri Hangorsky, Director of International Programs, who oversees the student exchange program with Menty Bayleyen, Senior Associate Director of Admissions. “We are expanding our international reach and one of our objectives of the program is to promote Penn Dental globally. Every time we have visiting students, they take something back with them about our School — our curriculum, our research, our outreach and vibrant community — and share it with others. ”

Since the summer of 2022, 47 students from 12 countries (Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Taiwan, and Thailand) have spent two weeks at the School, observing in clinics, attending lectures, and meeting students and faculty. The schedule for this summer through the spring of 2025, already has students slated to visit from Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Poland, Ghana, India and Israel, with more anticipated.

The exchange program is open to students attending schools that have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Penn Dental Medicine, which currently includes 46 institutions in 25 countries.  “We’ve been trying to expand into signing MOU agreements with schools in areas that were traditionally not represented,” says Hangorsky, noting the addition of several schools in Africa, Europe, Central Asia and South America.

The interest among students is high. “We receive inquiries on nearly a daily basis from students interested in coming through the program,” says Bayleyen, who explains that from the time students reach out until they are scheduled to visit is about six months. She notes that they limit groups to no more than three to four students at one time to ensure they can observe in all of the clinics during their stay. “To effectively observe in the clinics and cultivate meaningful relationships with students, staff and faculty the groups must be small,” says Bayleyen, explaining that if a student has an interest in a particular specialty, they will tailor their schedule to give them extra time observing in the respective area or participate in a seminar or course related to their area of interest. Having an international school where we have faculty, staff and students from all over the world, an important aspect of this program is to also connect visiting students with PDM students. Current PDM students have an imperative role in orienting and hosting visiting students as well as educating them about the nature of dental education and student life in the U.S.

A key goal of the program is to broaden participants understanding of the practice of dentistry in the United States, with the goal of producing future leaders in oral health who are prepared to interact globally. Hangorsky notes that it also introduces students interested in postgraduate study to Penn Dental Medicine’s programs as a possible option.

“The program broadened my perspective and made me want to continue my education in an international environment,” shared Sophia Magdalena Weiberlenn from University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, who participated in the program in the spring of 2023. “The exchange helped me not only to grow academically, but also personally. I got to meet people from all over the world and, most importantly, made new friends.”

View participant testimonials >>