She’s a Leading Oral Health Educator

Ann Brunick To Receive Alumni Achievement Award

Ann Brunick, chairperson of the University of South Dakota’s Department of Dental Hygiene, is a nationally accomplished oral health educator.

Brunick, who in 1986 received a master’s degree in dental hygiene from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is receiving a UMKC Alumni Achievement Award.  Her award and those of the other alumni honorees, one from each school and five receiving university-wide awards of distinction will be presented at the 2013 Alumni Awards luncheon on April 18.

“My entire UMKC experience influenced my drive to succeed,” Brunick said. “I faced professional and personal challenges, and the university warmly encouraged me.”

After Brunick received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, she was immediately hired as a full-time instructor in the dental hygiene department at the University of South Dakota. However, the position required a master’s degree in her discipline.  And she was pregnant with her first child.  That’s where UMKC’s School of Dentistry came in.

“UMKC professor Maxine Tishk created a distance education program and tailored it to me — you just didn’t hear about that at the time,” Brunick said. “I could not be more grateful.”

Brunick took a leave of absence without pay for a semester and participated in classes in Kansas City. Then she returned to South Dakota to have her son, Adam, who is now 27. She continued teaching and finished her graduate courses the next semester at a distance with bi-monthly face-to-face visits to Kansas City. Brunick graduated with her class on time.

“I believe this experience enhanced my resilience, my resolve, my organizational skills and my commitment to achieving my goals,” Brunick said. “There is no doubt that I am the person I am today because of my UMKC experience.”

In 1996, Brunick became chairperson of the University of South Dakota’s Department of Dental Hygiene. She has national involvement with the American Dental Health Association Institute for Oral Health Scholarship and Research Review committees, the American Dental Association (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation and the ADA Joint Commission for National Dental Board Examinations.

Brunick has been involved with several interprofessional education projects emphasizing oral health to students in physician’s assistant studies, physical therapy and school of medicine programs at the University of South Dakota. She participated in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant that developed and implemented an interprofessional approach to assist an underserved population with diabetes.

“I believe there is a significant movement within interprofessional medical and health education to now include oral health professionals because it’s linked to whole-body wellness,” Brunick said. “I am encouraged by the advent of a mid-level dental professional as a way to improve access to dental care. It is my vision that soon a dental hygienist will be available to care for people in every hospital, clinic and school.”

Brunick recently received a Health Resources and Services Administration Office of Rural Health Policy Outreach grant to establish a school-based preventive dental program serving several school districts in southeast South Dakota. She is the author of several articles and book chapters and is the co-author of the textbook “Handbook of Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen Sedation” with the fourth edition in progress.

“My research experience and value for scholarly investigation began at UMKC,” Brunick said. “I am humbled to acknowledge that my goal to become a respected dental hygiene educator has been achieved and it could not have been accomplished without the opportunity to be a part of the UMKC community.”

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