Kansas City University One Step Closer to Impacting the Oral Health of the Region

(Joplin, MO) – Kansas City University’s (KCU) College of Dental Medicine (CDM), located on their campus in Joplin, Missouri, announced on March 1 that it has received initial accreditation status from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). With initial accreditation granted, the College of Dental Medicine is approved to accept applications for the first dental school class of 80 students to start in July 2023.

The journey to bring a dental school to the KCU Farber-McIntire campus began in early 2018 following a regional needs assessment and feasibility study. This assessment identified both a significant shortage of dentists, combined with a population of dentists nearing retirement in the region. Those findings can best be addressed long-term by developing a pipeline of new dentists from the community, for the community.

KCU’s College of Dental Medicine will fill a serious health-care gap in the four-state region of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. All counties within a 100-mile radius of Joplin qualify as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (DHPSA) by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). In Missouri alone, 376 additional dentists are needed to remove the DHPSA designation. While Oklahoma requires 166, both Arkansas and Kansas need more than 100 to address these shortages. With only three dental schools in the four-state area, there is a need to train more dentists to address these shortages, especially in rural counties.

Oral health is closely tied to many general health issues and as America’s population ages, the need for additional dentists has never been greater. At full enrollment, KCU’s College of Dental Medicine will have 320 dental students total in the four-year program. Additionally, the program will be both a significant economic development engine in Southwest Missouri, as well as a means to improve access to oral health services for thousands of residents in the four-state region.

“The College of Dental Medicine will have a unique community-based curriculum that will engage regional health systems, community health centers and local dentists,” said Linda C. Niessen, DMD, MPH, MPP, founding dean of the college. “In addition, close work with the medical school and other university programs will add a strong population health component to the course work.”

The University will invest $80-100 million in the development of the dental school and construction of the facilities. Regional and local Joplin community fundraising efforts have helped KCU raise more than half of the cost for the project. When the academic and clinical facilities are completed in 2023, it will make Joplin among the smallest communities with both a medical and dental school.

“With this initial accreditation status, our new College of Dental Medicine stands ready to impact the oral health for our four-state region,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, KCU president and chief executive officer. “This will further KCU’s mission of improving the well-being of the communities we serve. Receiving initial accreditation exemplifies years of exceptionally hard work and effort from our outstanding faculty, staff and administrative teams, along with community leaders, donors and charitable foundations whose support will bring the College of Dental Medicine to fruition.”

About Kansas City University: 

Kansas City University, founded in 1916, is a fully accredited, private not-for-profit health sciences university with Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, Biosciences and a developing College of Dental Medicine. The College of Osteopathic Medicine is the eighth largest medical school in the nation, the ninth most impactful medical school in primary care for the nation, the tenth most affordable of private medical colleges, and the leading producer of physicians for the State of Missouri. The College of Osteopathic Medicine has two sites strategically located on the University’s campuses in Kansas City and Joplin, Missouri, to address the growing needs of both urban and rural populations. The University offers multiple graduate degrees: a doctor of osteopathic medicine; a doctor of clinical psychology; a master of arts in bioethics; a master of science in the biomedical sciences; a master of business administration in partnership with Rockhurst University; a new master of public health in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center; and plans to seat the first doctor of dental medicine students in 2023.

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