Dean Marsha Pyle accepted the UMKC Trustees Community Service Award on the school’s behalf at the UMKC Trustees Awards Ceremony, held March 14, 2017, at the law offices of Gage and Tucker. The award, presented annually, recognizes noteworthy contributions by a UMKC school or organization to the community through innovative services, programs, and/or projects that strengthen the relationship between the University and the community, ensuring that UMKC remains embedded in the fabric of the community.
Providing Continuous Community Engagement to Improve Oral Health
At the heart of heart of the School’s dental and dental hygiene training programs is a clinical component that involves delivering dental care to the community by student providers under the supervision of faculty. Unlike many health professions where students go to established hospitals or pharmacies to learn, School of Dentistry students provide care in the School’s ambulatory clinic, thus bringing the community to UMKC. The clinical training operations serve two primary purposes: first, our facilities and staff provide excellent clinical training for our future dentists, dental hygienists and dental specialists for the state and beyond; second, as an urban institution, the School significantly impacts the oral health in Kansas City by providing comprehensive dental services to our neighbors in the urban core at a fraction of the cost of services provided in the private sector.
Clinical operations within the School annually serve 61,000 patient visits in the School’s primary clinic. That translates to important clinical learning experiences for our students who are learning the professional clinical skills required in their respective professions. Additionally, our clinical students and faculty provide quality dental care to underserved members of the community. The oral health care delivered by the School, either pro bono or fee for service, represents significant contribution to improving oral health in Kansas City and beyond. The School of Dentistry’s clinical operations consistently provide pro bono services that represent a value of at least $450,000 to patients. The School of Dentistry’s clinics also provide emergency care for patients without dentists of record. The School serves approximately 1,000 emergency patients annually. Patients seeking emergent care represent some of the community’s most vulnerable members who often are unable to pay for complicated treatment. The emergency clinic provides basic care to treat pain and infection while providing options for comprehensive care in the main clinics.
To foster the School’s core value of giving back to the community, the School partners with the dental societies of Missouri and Kansas to donate comprehensive examinations and care to school children in the greater Kansas City area through the Give Kids a Smile Program. Each year on a single day in February, the School and its dental professional colleagues donate all the dental care provided, which ranges in value from $30,000 to $50,000. This event helps children who likely would have no other way to access professional dental care. Throughout the year, the School also works with a number of elementary schools in Kansas City to have school children bused weekly to the School to receive dental care. The cost of much of the care delivered by UMKC students to these children is supported by generous giving from alumni and friends of UMKC School of Dentistry. Likewise, as part of our curriculum, students spend two 2-week rotations providing care to underprivileged patients at 30 community health centers across Missouri and Kansas.
Tucked among other giants in health care on Hospital Hill, the UMKC School of Dentistry clinics provide critically needed oral health care to the community and serves as a valuable oral health safety net for individuals without dental benefits or an ability to pay. The UMKC School of Dentistry represents an often overlooked gem of community oral health resources for all citizens of the region in an educational environment that helps to instill in our graduates an appreciation of the value of giving back to the community.
More photos from the event.
Watch the recognition video from the ceremony.