ATSU is considering requests by three groups based in southern California, central Florida, and Kirksville to bring to those regions the university’s successful and innovative dentistry program.
University President Jack Magruder met with the ATSU Board of Trustees in late September and soon announced a formal feasibility study to be completed before the next board meeting in February 2011. The study will look at such issues as need, availability of qualified students, opportunities for suitable clinical experiences, cost to initiate and sustain the program, and overall support from local and regional advocates. According to ATSU’s own study, undertaken by Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Craig Phelps, D.O., ‘84, the shortage of dentists in rural areas is already significant and will become even more pronounced in coming years.
Although ATSU is considering dental schools in two other states, President Magruder believes that the Missouri site “has an excellent likelihood of success and is an opportunity for the university and community to enter into a mutually beneficial partnership,” he said.
ATSU Senior Vice President — Academic Affairs Douglas Wood, D.O., Ph.D., said a rural Missouri school would “underscore our commitment to social responsibility — giving back to the community and serving rural areas and underserved populations.”
ATSU-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health Dean Jack Dillenberg, D.D.S., M.P.H, said that he is thrilled with ASDOH’s success and also with the potential opportunity to bring its communityservice-oriented model of dental education to Missouri.
“The excitement and support generated in the community is very encouraging. I know that there are significant oral health needs in rural Missouri, and we look forward to being a part of the solution.”
ATSU is exploring a Kirksville site at the request of the Missouri Primary Care Association, a statewide organization of community health centers (CHCs) that principally serve uninsured and underinsured clients.
Andy Grimm, CEO of Northeast Missouri Health Council Inc., a federally qualified community health center, speaking on behalf of all CHCs in Missouri, said, “Our community health center, and all community health centers in Missouri, pledge our support for the development of a new dental school and will work to develop training opportunities for students. We commend President Magruder and the ATSU Board of Trustees for their vision and leadership in addressing a national crisis in healthcare.”
In addition to CHCs in Missouri, ATSU has received letters of support for a new dental school in Kirksville from CHC and primary care associations in the Dakotas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin, as well as from the Cherokee Nation Health Services Group. All have pledged to provide training slots to Kirksville’s third- and fourth-year dental students.
Monnie Harrison, ATSU vice president for finance and chief financial officer, estimates the economic impact of a Kirksville dental school on the local economy to be in the millions of dollars.
If the new ATSU dental school in Missouri becomes a reality, the first class is expected to begin in Fall 2013.
Check out Kirksville’s community push for a new dental school here: http: www.communityfriendsforatsudental.org
Check out KTVO’s coverage of Kirksville’s community effort to bring a new dental school here: http://www.heartlandconnection.com/news/story.aspx?id=536875