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Telling the stories of health care providers on the road Date: 08/31/15


Sara Schilling

By Mary Otto

Sara Schilling of the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., recently offered her readers the story of local dentist Bart Roach, who combines his love of travel with his devotion for helping others.

When Roach is not taking care of his own patients and pitching in at a local clinic for the poor, he is often journeying to remote communities in faraway places to help children suffering from tooth decay and infection.

In this Q&A, Schilling offers insights into how she created her widely-read profile of an “Adventure Dentist.” She also shares a little encouragement for other reporters who might consider looking for a similar story in their own communities.


When and how did you first learn about Dr. Roach and his adventures?
Dr. Roach is well-known dentist in the Tri-Cities, and we heard about his trip to India a couple weeks before he headed out.

Your story captures the pleasure Dr. Roach takes in his travels; trying new foods, experiencing new places, meeting all kinds of people. What surprised you most about the stories he told of his dental trips?
He’s traveled a lot of places and has some great stories. One thing that didn’t surprise me but was nice to hear: people back home chipped in to help cover the cost of partial dentures for a teen girl in Guatemala after Dr. Roach shared online about her tough situation.

In addition to the work Dr. Roach has done with the nonprofit Global Dental Relief, he has started his own group that focuses upon the needs in Guatemala: Sonrisa Immaculata. Can you tell us a little more about that group?
Its aim is to provide both dental care and hygiene education.

At the end of your story, you offer readers a chance to follow Dr. Roach's upcoming trip to India. How are you planning to stay in touch with him and how will these additional installments work?
We’re hoping to post an update or two from Dr. Roach on our website and social media soon. Stay tuned.

Do you have any wisdom to share with fellow reporters hoping to write about "adventure" dentists, hygienists or assistants in their own communities?
No advice, just encouragement. Our readers liked hearing about Dr. Roach’s adventures – the article got hundreds of “likes” and lots of shares on Facebook, and it was popular on our website. There’s an appetite for that kind of story.