Partnership could lead to UMKC Dental School expansion

The UMKC School of Dentistry plans to expand the dentistry program at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU). While this project has been in the works for some time, UM President Mun Choi confirmed in a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting that the two schools continue to work together to make these plans a reality.

Choi took SGA members by surprise on last month when he attended their meeting. While he discussed various issues regarding university budget cuts, he also illuminated the school’s plans to expand the dentistry school in Joplin, Mo.

While many students were unfamiliar with the project, it dates back to 2010. According to Director of Media Relations John Martellaro, UMKC put out a state funding request in June 2015 to commence planning.

“The Board of Curators authorized a funding request to the Missouri General Assembly, asking for a special $1.5 million appropriation, separate from the overall state appropriation to the UM system, to pay for the satellite,” Martellaro said.

However, students’ lack of awareness stems from the fact that these plans remain temporarily on hold. As Choi pointed out, the project cannot proceed because of a lack of state funds.

“The Missouri Southern dental school satellite project is dependent on state appropriation of the necessary funds,” Martellaro affirmed.

MSSU, however, still fights to put the plans in motion. MSSU’s Director of University Relations, Cassie Mathes, says the university will move forward with the partnership.

“We’re hoping it’ll be possible for this program to be funded in the next couple of years,” Mathes said.

In anticipation, MSSU has relocated programs to make room for the dental school. They aim to house the program in their Health Sciences Center. As Mathes explained, MSSU will act as the host, while UMKC heads the curriculum.

MSSU currently has a similar partnership with the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU). Due to its success, MSSU hopes to incorporate these same innovations with UMKC’s School of Dentistry.

“Our local medical community has been very supportive of teaching our future medical specialists,” Mathes said. “Being able to add dental to our program would be fantastic.”

Both universities expressed similar reasoning: within Missouri there are a shockingly low number of medical practitioners, especially in the state’s small-town areas. As Martellaro explained, UMKC decided the house its satellite school in Joplin to increase the medical practice in rural Missouri.

“Studies have shown that moving health professions education programs closer to those rural areas leads to more graduates who come from those areas to practice closer to home after graduation,” Martellaro cited.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *