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Innovations: The Dale Redig Legacy

By David W. Chambers

Dr. Dale Redig and his wife, Diane, greeted Dr. Craig Yarborough ’80 and me at the front door of their cozy house in Stockton, California. We chatted a long time—there was much to say about his time as dean of our dental school from 1969 to 1978 as well as all that has happened since. Diane offered many additions and recollections along the way; they were then and continue to be a formadable team. There were pastries and fresh strawberries. It was exactly as it should be.

One of the reasons for the visit was to acknowledge Redig’s recent honor from the American College of Dentists—the Lifetime Achievement Award, marking his 50 years of service to the profession. What that means in practical terms is that he started as a leader in dentistry at an early age, and then kept going.

Redig, who became dean at age 39, hired me in 1971 so it was fun to talk about the old days. He was almost wistful about the challenges he encountered when he got to San Francisco, but there was still a sense of urgency in the stories he recounted. The College of Physicians & Surgeons, after nearly 70 years of going it alone, had merged with the University of the Pacific in 1962, and there were many issues to work out. The dental school faced the accreditation process, including a site visit, very shortly after Redig arrived. And it was not an ordinary visit. The school was on conditional status: unless it could be demonstrated that changes had been made to bring it up to the standard, there was a very real possibility that we would lose our accreditation, a fatal blow that would almost certainly force the school to close.

“Yes,” Redig said, “we had to make changes very quickly. Not everyone liked it at first, but I always gave clear explanations about what we were doing and why.” The story about many of the windows in the building on Webster Street being covered and painted over and how he ordered them to be opened are true. It is also a fact that he organized a brigade of students and administrators to paint parts of the school just before the accreditation site visit team arrived. On the academic front, he brought four-handed dentistry from University of Iowa to Pacific as he was chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at Iowa and DAU was taught in his department. An entire floor of the new dental school was devoted to research and Redig hired Dr. Gunnar Ryge, then immediate past president of the International Association for Dental Research, who styled himself the “assistant dean in case of research.” Additionally, Redig started the tradition of a retreat at Asilomar in 1968, a 50-year anniversary the school celebrated this past February.

There is a paradox in what Redig set out to accomplish. Although he initiated some swift, dramatic changes, decades later we are still working to realize many of his goals. That is not because Redig was a slow starter. Rather, it is because he focused on the fundamentals. There are issues that are central to dental education—challenges that emerge continuously in new forms and separate the schools struggling to remain open from those growing to greatness.

This is the story of six of the goals that Redig laid out half a century ago: (1) a comprehensive care clinical model, (2) humanism, (3) curriculum efficiency, (4) a functional physical facility, (5) financial stability and (6) meaningful initial licensure examinations. These stories will be told by current faculty members who were not yet part of Pacific when Redig finished his tenure as dean in 1978 to become executive director of the California Dental Association.

“I always gave clear explanations about what we were doing and why.”

Comprehensive Patient Care

Dr. Des Gallagher, group practice leader and newly named executive associate dean, says he recalls hearing that dental school clinics were once arranged so that the school managed all patients and allocated them to specialty areas by the half day. If it was Monday, students did gold foils, on Tuesday afternoon it might have been endo.  Patients generally had multi-visit procedures completed by the same student, but their overall care was divided among students. If there were thoughts of sequencing treatment or providing comprehensive care, there was really no way to achieve it.

“I simply cannot imagine learning dentistry that way,” Gallagher says. “Prevention, patient management, treatment planning and so much of what we understand today as appropriate care must have been learned after graduation.  We are in the health care business; not the business of doing procedures for their own sake.” 

A major part of the change has involved building stronger, better relationships between students and faculty. Students now work in teams of 18 each of second- and third- year students, five International Dental Studies students and two Dugoni School hygiene students. Teams of faculty work with distinct groups of students and patients providing continuity of care, and group practice leaders are there to coordinate everything. There is heavy investment every quarter in cross training so that faculty present current and standardized approaches to dentistry.

The equipment and support are vastly different from a half century ago. When Redig arrived, students brought their issued wooden instrument box and showed up in clinic with everything (it was hoped) that would be needed for the day. Now we have electronic medical records, digital imaging, CAD/CAM, microscopes for endo and everything the modern dental office is equipped with.

Redig brought a comprehensive care model with him from University of Iowa, College of Dentistry and it was implemented by Dr. Jim Pride, clinical dean, and the founding team of group practice leaders in 1971: Drs. Del Byerly, Ron Borer, Robert Christoffersen ’67 and Roland Smith. Each new clinical dean—Drs. Christoffersen, Borer, Richard Fredekind and Sig Abelson ’66—built on this tradition.

Humanism

“As a student, I was never treated the way I saw students treated when I arrived at UOP,” said Redig. Students were told what to do, but not why, and they were humiliated in front of patients. Lab work that was not up to standard was publicly destroyed. But the worst abuse was favoritism. Faculty had protégés who received special attention.

“I simply would not stand for that,” said Redig [a phrase he used consistently throughout our visit]. “A few faculty members left because they were probably there for their egos rather than to teach. But most came to realize that respect is essential to professionalism.”

Current third-year student Will Keeton, Class of 2018, reports that at first he took the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s humanism for granted. “I was respected and that made me want to participate in the profession and to give more.” Keeton started volunteering—something people avoid if not appreciated. He became his class representative to the American Dental Education Association which coincides with his role as a student representative on the school’s Curriculum Committee, and met students from other schools. “Would you believe there are dental students at other schools who do not even know their dean’s name?” he asked incredulously.

If it was Monday, students did gold foils, on Tuesday afternoon it might have been endo.

“The great difference at Pacific is that everyone has a voice,” says Keeton. If students see a better way to conduct a class, provide patient care or become involved in student life or community service, they just speak up and the next thing they know, they are part of the solution instead of being on the grumble squad. 

The scope of humanism has increased steadily during the past 50 years; from the early emphasis on a positive teaching relationship between students and faculty, to including patients, staff and others in all our relationships.  Yes, Redig realized that he was redistributing power, but he also started the process of multiplying dignity and collaboration. Now it makes sense to speak of our being a family.  As Dean Emeritus Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 has said so clearly, “This is how Pacific grows people, and especially leaders at every level.”

Curriculum Efficiency

The Dugoni School of Dentistry has the only 36-month DDS or DMD program in America. It also has the nation’s first three-year baccalaureate dental hygiene program and a popular IDS program, offering a two-year program for individuals with dental degrees from other countries. Because the Dugoni School is also among the schools with the highest clinical productivity and yields (proportion of students passing all requirements, including national and state boards necessary for licensure on time) no one can say we do it by cutting corners.

Dr. Leroy Cagnone ’59 was the architect of the original three-year curriculum. In his personal and unassuming manner, he asked faculty members to explain exactly why they needed so many hours in the program. And he would not accept “that’s the way we always did it” or “that’s what I know best” as justifications. For the most part, instruction that could not demonstrate its usefulness to the next level in the curriculum or to clinical practice was dropped.

Dr. Daniel Bender, current assistant dean for academic affairs, has led accreditation and curriculum revisions here for years. He says it is all about focusing on outcomes and adjusting the process. “We have more resources than were ever imagined when Dr. Redig was dean: computers for careful tracking of individual student accomplishment, faculty who have received advanced training in education and business, curriculum development experts, staff to coordinate individualized instruction and students who are motivated and not passive.”

In the 19th century, dentists learned by apprenticing to practitioners. For efficiency, part-time educators grouped together in the first half of the 20th century to form schools, originally for their own profit, but they kept the model of “you can only become a dentist by listening to and imitating me.” That was starting to change by the time Redig came to Pacific. The emphasis shifted to organizing instruction around the characteristics dentists needed to enter practice. The dental school pioneered competence-based dental education, also called student–centered education.

…respect is essential to professionalism

“When we focus on what students need to learn instead of what faculty want to present, flexibility automatically leads to efficiency,” Bender suggests. “The trick is to stop thinking that learning comes prepackaged in small, faculty-led units called courses.” Under Dr. Nader Nadershahi’s leadership when he was academic dean, the Dugoni School of Dentistry started to think of the curriculum in terms of themes or major dentist characteristics, such as clinical and biomedical sciences and professionalism and personal development. These “big buckets” make it easier to be flexible and to constantly update the curriculum.

Redig says, “It was obvious that we needed to go to year-round instruction. The summers were a waste and an interruption to learning and patient care, and it was an advantage to make full use of the physical plant year round.” The Class of 1974B was the first class to graduate from the three-year program. Students saw a chance to enter practice a year earlier, faculty appreciated year-round compensation and the University recognized the economic advantages of this system. Other schools tried the model in the early ’70s, but only Pacific has been able to make it work.

Physical Facilities

Redig was keenly sensitive to improving performance by making the physical space better. The dental school’s Pacific Heights’ location had originally been selected as it was across the street from Pacific Presbyterian Hospital and Stanford Medical School with early hopes of affiliating with that school. However, Stanford Medical School moved to Palo Alto, opening the door for the College of Physicians and Surgeons to amalgamate with University of the Pacific. Negotiations to begin a University of the Pacific Medical School with Pacific Presbyterian Hospital were eventually abandoned.

Redig, with the help of Pride and Christoffersen, constantly enhanced the building at Sacramento and Webster Streets. First was the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic, redesigned to accommodate four-handed dentistry. That was followed by a new patient entrance, new clinic chairs and updated surgery, emergency and screening clinics. Extramural programs were started in Union City, the tiny town of Elk on the Mendocino coast and other sites to promote community service—ultimately seven community clinics in all.

Dr. Richard Fredekind, executive associate dean and former clinical dean, explains how our new facility South of Market has allowed the school to continue Redig’s program of fitting form to function. “We have been able to consolidate. All services are on the same two levels and they are integrated electronically.” The old typodont on a rod that was once the staple in the preclinical lab has been replaced with patient simulators with the same delivery system as found in the clinics. The IDS class shares the same physical space. The operatories in the clinic are also larger in order to accommodate faculty and staff, two computer screens and diagnostic and other equipment.

University Relations

The College of Physicians & Surgeons was the last dental school forced by the Commission on Dental Accreditation to find a university home. There were some new relationship details to work through on both sides. University of the Pacific is among only about two dozen universities in the United States that have small, non-research intensive, residential liberal arts schools with professional satellite programs such as law, audiology and dentistry. The dental school is unique among Pacific’s professional schools because its separate location, in a large city with a high cost of living, requires some duplication of services such as security, computers, human resources and public relations. It is also unique because between 25% and 30% of the operating budget comes from managing a patient care clinic.

Redig worked to broaden the allegiance of the P&S alums who had no special reason for loyalty to Pacific. Dr. Art Dugoni continued this public relations work and built our foundation into the most philanthropic unit in the University. Beginning with Redig’s deanship, the dental school has never failed to run a surplus budget and to contribute to the economic health of University of the Pacific.

Redig recounts some tough negotiations at the beginning as both the dental school and the University worked to understand their different cultures and different fiscal systems. “In the end, (University President) Stan (McCaffrey) and I became good friends, but that took a lot of back and forth because we were each trying to ensure the integrity of our programs.”

Current dean, Dr. Nader Nadershahi ’94, says “such challenges will always be with us. In changing times, especially with the diversity of programs at the University, we have to constantly find ways to support each other.” The dental school operates year round, depends on faculty to practice what they teach and could easily earn multiples of their salaries, and our teaching program is built around a direct service to the public. 

Initial Licensure

When Redig came to Pacific, the pass rate on the state boards was often about 60%. There were irregularities, such as the fact that candidates were not anonymous to examiners. In 1971, the deans of the then five California dental schools forced the creation of a “blue ribbon committee” to recommend changes. The nucleus of change started at the time but was accelerated with help from Christoffersen, who served on the Dental Board of California from 1993 to 2001. A succession of changes took place. The conduct of the board administered by the state was improved, reciprocity was enhanced and the Western Regional Examining Board was developed. Students were given specific preparation for boards as part of their instructional program. Today, the typical pass rate exceeds 90%.

And the Dugoni School of Dentistry is again leading the nation on initial licensure. Abelson, current associate dean for clinical affairs, explains how the new California portfolio licensure process works. “While they are students, candidates declare, perform and are evaluated on patient treatment in six disciplines. This care is provided in sequence as part of comprehensive patient care. Students are evaluated by two calibrated faculty examiners, who use state board standards. This is much more representative of how dentists will practice than any other current initial licensure system.” Candidates also have to present evidence (in their “portfolio”) of their ability to manage a balanced family of patients. The cost of the portfolio system to candidates is one-tenth of fees for other options, excluding patient procurement and travel for traditional state board exams.

Continuing the Journey

Redig started the dental school on a journey by making swift, necessary changes and by drawing our attention to the most important work to be done. He did not see all of his projects to completion; improvement is an ongoing process and many very talented people have joined and continue the effort.

In the late 1960s, the Commission on Dental Accreditation came to San Francisco with the very realistic possibility of closing the dental school down. Today, the Dugoni School of Dentistry is setting the standards by which all schools are judged. Comprehensive care, humanism, competency-based curricula, a physical facility that supports the education and patient care mission and balanced University relationships with stable and transparent financial arrangements have all been written into the accreditation standards. Pacific provided the first draft in every one of these areas thanks to Dr. Dale Redig.

David W. Chambers, PhD, is a professor of dental education and former academic dean at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, and is editor of the American College of Dentists.

Out of the Box

A forensic dentist who is also a police officer, a traveling dentist who treats exotic animals around the world and a dentist who provides care at a military base—this issue of Contact Point takes a look at some Dugoni School of Dentistry alumni who are exploring out-of-the-box approaches to the care they provide.

It is always interesting to learn about the various journeys our alumni take in their careers. Graduates today have an ever-widening range of options for how, when and where to practice dentistry. Our goal at the Dugoni School is to make sure our students have a strong foundation upon which to build a career—no matter which path they pursue.

We’re pleased to feature a profile of a former dean, Dr. Dale Redig, which explores some of the important ways he shaped our school and how some of those philosophies live on today. You’ll also read about alumni who are making a difference by thinking creatively with their new, non-profit dental clinic in Oakland and other alumni who have stepped up to significant leadership positions at the California Dental Association.

We hope this issue continues to celebrate our incredible Dugoni School family and gives you a few ideas about how to think “out of the box” in your own creative way.

Thank you for your consistent support of our school.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, DDS, MBA, EdD Dean

Pacific Launches Historic Fundraising Campaign

The 2017 Homecoming weekend, October 20-22, likely will go down as one of the most exciting times in University of the Pacific’s history. It was not only the sheer number of people who came to campus that marked its importance—more than 2,300 alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and community members joined the festivities. It was the moment when Pacific announced its $300 million campaign, Leading with Purpose: The Campaign for University of the Pacific, which will transform the way the University provides higher education for generations to come. 

“We are driven by a shared purpose: providing a place where students thrive far beyond academics,” said Pamela A. Eibeck, president. “This campaign, and all who support it, will help us deliver more effectively on our vision of becoming a premier University that prepares graduates to live, learn and lead with purpose.” 

Leading with Purpose is guided by four principal priorities:/p>

Student Access and Success

Pacific’s dedicated faculty are leading young people to achievements they never knew were within reach. This campaign will amplify the effectiveness of faculty and professional staff and provide ambitious students with the resources they need to thrive.

Building Communities 

A Pacific education is community-minded. Throughout Northern California and around the world, you’ll find Pacific students, faculty and alumni leading with purpose; they’re the ones that communities can always count on when it comes to serving the common good. Investing in our University supports their endeavors.

Academic Programs of Excellence and Relevance 

Pacific adapts to create the best academic programs to meet the needs of our students. This campaign will enhance key academic programs and boost our graduates’ preparedness to lead in health care, law, technology and other fast-changing and growing fields across Northern California and the nation.

Athletic Achievement

Pacific athletics offers an invaluable opportunity to develop personal integrity, self-discipline and leadership—long-lasting traits our graduates proudly take into their professional lives. This campaign will provide our scholar-athletes with the resources they need to be successful in the classroom and in competition.

Learn more about the campaign at Purpose.Pacific.edu

Share your purpose #PacificPurpose

 

Just Health 510

By Louise Knott Ahern

For more than 15 years, the man had hidden behind a long mustache and beard, keeping his smiles small and his voice quiet. Ashamed to let anyone see that he was missing all of his front teeth, the Army veteran slowly became a different person. He withdrew from friends and family. He would sit silently while others laughed around him, reluctant to join in conversation because he didn’t want anyone to hear the way he hissed on every “s.”

Then, he discovered Just Health 510. The nonprofit dental clinic in Oakland, California, was founded by two Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry alumni last year and offers a range of free services, from basic cleanings to dentures.

“This gentleman was in his 60s. He’d been this way for too long,” said Dr. Daniel Nam ’02, president of Just Health 510. “We were able to take out his remaining back teeth and make him a full set of upper and lower dentures that fit properly.” The results were instantaneous.

“The day we delivered the dentures, he couldn’t believe it when he saw himself in the mirror,” Nam recalled. “He looked 20 years younger. And when he talked, he could not believe how he sounded. He grabbed my hand and kept thanking all of us profusely. We were all in tears.”

Success stories like that are why Nam and fellow Dugoni School of Dentistry graduate, Dr. Brian Hathcoat ’12, decided to open Just Health 510, even as they continue to work in their own practices every day.

“Our ability to help folks get themselves back on their feet is rewarding,” Nam said. “I would do this all day long.”

Nam and Hathcoat met at the Berkeley Free Clinic—a health clinic that opened in 1969 and relies largely on volunteer student doctors for medical services. Though dental care is offered, it’s on a lottery basis only and is limited to emergency services such as extractions.

Nam had been volunteering at the Berkeley Free Clinic for more than a decade and had risen to its director of dental services when Hathcoat started there. The two men quickly became friends, bonded not only as fellow Dugoni School alumni but also by a shared passion for service.

And like so many good ideas, Just Health 510 was born from a simple conversation among friends that began with an even simpler question: What if?

A BETTER WAY

“There had to be a better way,” Hathcoat said. What if they could expand on all the good aspects of the Berkeley Free Clinic—the free services, the volunteer doctors—and provide a full-service, day-time dental clinic for people who could not afford dental care? What if they could find a way to ensure that those people had access to comprehensive dental services—not just emergency care?

“There are community clinics around, but they provide very basic-level care,” Hathcoat said. “There is a population of people who can’t afford dental care; who can’t afford insurance. As cavities or other problems occur, they don’t have the money to get treated, which can lead to broken smiles or self-confidence issues. It can affect them overall—the ability to eat, to smile.”

And like so many good ideas, Just Health 510 was born from a simple conversation among friends that began with an even simpler question: What if?

As it turned out, Nam had the same idea. The two Dugoni School graduates hopped on a plane to Phoenix to check out a program called A Brighter Way, a series of free dental clinics for underserved communities. Founded by Dr. Kris Volchek, the program began in 1999 as a clinic for homeless adults but grew into three separate programs over the next 15 years. A Brighter Way’s philosophy became the model for Just Health 510. Like A Brighter Way, Just Health 510 is designed to target vulnerable communities and offers more than just emergency dental care. Nam and Hathcoat hope to expand in the future to serve more people and provide more services.

“The end goal is to create a showcase facility that will attract providers, dentists and volunteers,” Hathcoat said. “We want to provide a whole range of services, including implants and crowns, along with routine dentistry.”

Like A Brighter Way, the overall goal is to empower patients to lead healthy lives through proper oral health care. To accomplish their goals, Just Health 510 has enlisted the support of 10 dedicated individuals on their board of directors, including two other Dugoni School alumni: Drs. Ashley Cheng ’16 and Akhil Reddy ’08.

“We want to break down the barriers to achieve high-quality dental care,” said Dr. Ashley Cheng ’16, chief of operations for Just Health 510 who recently completed an MPH program at Harvard. “I am proud to be part of an organization focused on health equity, which means everyone has the opportunity to attain his or her highest level of health.”

Another similarity to A Brighter Way? A focus on veterans.

UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES

Just Health 510 currently serves three primary groups of patients. First, they inherited an existing patient base from Dr. Cote Reese, a retired Oakland dentist who has allowed Just Health 510 to operate out of his practice in Oakland. Second, the clinic works with elderly patients in assisted living facilities who can’t afford dental care. The third group is veterans.

“If you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces but you are not a high-ranking general or a prisoner of war or someone with a 100 percent disability, you get nothing in the way of dental coverage,” said Nam. “To me it’s a travesty and shame on all of us, that we are allowing this to happen.”

Their focus on veterans happened almost by accident. Hathcoat was asked last year to volunteer at Stand Down, an event where homeless and at-risk veterans can receive services such as housing and legal assistance, basic health care or even a haircut. Hathcoat served roughly 20 patients that weekend with some emergency dental issues, but referred a few to Just Health 510 for follow-up.

He and Nam realized they could fill the gap on a regular basis. “We can’t turn our backs on these folks,” Nam proclaimed.

A DESIRE TO GIVE BACK

That drive to give back to the community was one of the most important qualifications Nam and Hathcoat looked for when they approached other dentists to serve on their board of directors.

For Nam, it’s a drive that was nurtured throughout his life by his parents. “My immigrant parents never let me not dream or not hope,” he said. But it’s also a philosophy that was nurtured at the Dugoni School of Dentistry.

“What is different about our school is that in the words of Dr. Dugoni, ‘You’re a friend, and I’m going to train you to become a dentist.’ We do it in a loving, positive way,” said Nam. “It’s no coincidence that the four dentists on the board are from Pacific. It’s really fun when you have great clinicians who have big hearts. You put all that together, and you can do magical things.”

Hathcoat said it goes back to a simple principle. “To me, it’s basic community care,” he said, “that we take care of each other.”

“At the Dugoni School of Dentistry, our purpose is to help people lead healthy lives,” said Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94. “We are so proud of the work being done by our alumni leaders in organizations such as Just Health 510 to provide critical oral health care to those in need. We know that good oral health leads to good overall health and these efforts are helping everyone in our community lead healthier lives.”

“We’re excited and want to grow,” said Nam. “We’re looking for serious, committed folks.” If you would like to contribute to Just Health 510 or are interested in volunteering your services, please email admin@justhealth510.org.

Louise Knott Ahern, BA, is an award-winning journalist, fiction writer, editor and writing coach, and is the founder of LKA Publishing.

Working Outside the Box

Practicing Dentistry in Unusual Settings

By Kathleen A. Barrows

Working in a classic neighborhood dental practice isn’t for everyone. Some alumni, after years of practice, have tired of the long hours or daily routines. For others, the harsh economic realities of setting up a practice, especially in today’s high-rent urban areas, can be challenging. We interviewed three alumni of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry who have found innovative ways and settings and, in some cases, even unusual patients on whom to use their dental skills.

Dr. David Fagan ’66

We were lucky to catch up with Dr. David Fagan ’66, who was on his way to Canada to help provide a state-of-the-art, full metal crown restoration and treat exposed pulp tissue. In most dental practices treating exposed or bleeding pulp tissue is a fairly normal event. But Fagan’s patients are not exactly “normal.” This one was a walrus with a broken tusk. His other patients include cheetahs, monkeys, eagles, lions, pandas, gorillas and elephants.

Fagan had a short career as a chemical research engineer working with NASA before becoming a member of the last graduating class from the old College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) in San Francisco’s Mission District. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he established a multi-specialty, multi-location dental group practice offering 24-hour emergency, on-call service for everyone from the upscale hotel industry to the Haight-Ashbury street people.

His decision to change his patient population from “bipeds to quadrupeds” occurred when he took his daughter’s ailing horse to the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, Davis, to investigate what turned out to be a cracked patella. Fagan was asked, since he was a dentist, if he would take a look at another horse with a sinus problem, which he did.  What resulted was a five-year relationship consulting in research, clinical care and lecturing with the university’s William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, which was at the forefront of making dentistry a recognized sub-specialty of veterinary medicine. Ever since, he’s been applying his diagnostic, clinical and surgical skills to animals rather than people.

In those early days, Fagan admits “nobody recognized that animals had the same sort of range of oral and dental problems as humans; the general assumption was that some just had bad breath.” His first exotic animal surgery involved removing the four canine teeth, per health department orders, of a South American woolly monkey who had bitten a dinner guest at Juanita Musson’s legendary Galley Restaurant in Boyes Hot Springs, California.

After moving to San Diego in 1974 and working with Dr. Kurt Benirschke, then director of research for the San Diego Zoo, Fagan has gone on to become recognized internationally as a traveling dentist treating exotic animals around the world—from China to South America to Europe. His many accomplishments include developing a complete mobile dental unit that can be used anywhere, at any time, with any animal; discovering that there are no sensory nerves in elephant tusks; researching the relationship between diet and abnormalities in the dentition of cheetahs and elephants; and developing special instruments to perform endodontic therapy on large carnivores.

His first exotic animal surgery involved removing the four canine teeth, per health department orders, of a South American woolly monkey who had bitten a dinner guest at Juanita Musson’s legendary Galley Restaurant in Boyes Hot Springs, California.

In 1981, he founded the non-profit Colyer Institute (www.colyerinstitute.org), a center for the study of oral disease and nutrition in exotic animals, named after the pioneering British dental surgeon Sir Frank Colyer and his brother, who were instrumental at the turn of the 19th century in making dentistry a recognized clinical sub-specialty of modern veterinary medicine.

Fagan has published an entertaining and informative book about his life and role in the development of modern veterinary dentistry (Dentist Goes Animal, available through Amazon). He aptly summarizes his story as “a lifetime of helping a host of very interesting exotic animals, both captive and free-ranging.”

Dr. Gregory Mar ’88

Dr. Gregory Mar ’88 describes his career as “atypical,” and indeed it is, considering that he’s a captain in the San Francisco Police Department. After completing dental school and an oral surgery fellowship, he practiced dentistry for three years, using his postgraduate training in oral and maxillofacial surgery for complex cases too difficult for the average dentist to handle. It was a conversation with a friend that inspired him to take a hiatus from dentistry and join the police department, where Mar had already volunteered as a reserve officer, assisting and supplementing the full-time police officers in a variety of departmental duties.

He was sworn in as a full-time officer in 1991 and three years later, after also completing a master’s degree in educational psychology, was recruited to join San Francisco’s Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit. He has served on the unit for 14 years, rising from sergeant-inspector to the rank of captain, and only recently was transferred out when it became a civilian position. Mar jokes that his greatest claim to fame is being the only practicing police captain involved in two well-known TV shows—CSI and SVU (Special Victims Unit).

So how does a trained dentist use his skills on the job as a police officer? With his scientific background, Mar was a natural for analyzing fingerprints and detecting gunshot residue. He also serves as a forensic dental consultant to the San Francisco Medical Examiner. Close examination of the third molar, he explains, can determine whether an unidentified body is that of an adolescent or an adult.

He also is a specialist in bite mark analysis. Dogs’ teeth have particular features and the resulting bite marks can, in the absence of witnesses, be a major point of forensic interest in cases involving canines. Mar was involved in the investigations of two well-known San Francisco dog attacks—the 2001 case of Diane Whipple, the lacrosse player and coach who was killed in a San Francisco dog attack, and the death of a 12-year-old boy killed by two family pit bulls in the city’s Sunset District four years later.

Mar still maintains his dental license, using his practice to serve the community in yet another way, far from the world of policing. He works with disadvantaged populations in community dentistry, mainly doing pre-prosthetic surgery at San Mateo General Hospital, Oakland’s Highland Hospital and La Clinica de la Raza Community Clinic, in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, with dental school faculty member, Dr. Eugene LaBarre.

So how does a trained dentist use his skills on the job as a police officer? With his scientific background, Mar was a natural for analyzing fingerprints and detecting gunshot residue.

Mar recently team-taught a continuing education course at the dental school, Forensic Odontology: Is it CSI Dentistry?, where he explained the work of forensic dentists in the criminal justice system.

“Law enforcement is my full-time job,” says Mar, and “dentistry is a hobby.”  His police career has allowed him to break out of what he calls the “monotony” of dentistry. “It’s been a wild ride,” he admits. “It’s unique to be a part of the Dugoni School family and not be taking the traditional path.”

Dr. Nataly Yoncee ’17

As a member of the First Dental Battalion, serving the United States Marines, Dr. Yoncee practices in a dental office on a military base—Camp Pendleton in San Diego. Though an excellent student in high school, she realized upon graduating that she wasn’t prepared for college nor drawn to any profession. So at the age of 17, she enlisted in the United States Navy. Yoncee served active duty for four years, working in supply and stationed on both a naval ship and in a helicopter squadron. Today, she owes her dental career completely to the military. “The Navy changed my life,” she says.

Yoncee had entertained the idea of becoming a dental technician, but it was a chance encounter with a dental officer, while she was a patient in a dental van that services Navy personnel when ships are in port, that gave her the idea of becoming a dentist and using the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). “There’s no way I would have gone to dental school without it,” she admits. After her four years of service, she used the post-9/11 GI bill to get her bachelor’s degree at University of Callifornia, Berkeley,  and went on to the Dugoni School of Dentistry with a Health Professions Scholarship.

Currently, she’s a resident in the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at Camp Pendleton, serving the active-duty Marines on the base. “It’s great exposure to all facets of dentistry,” she says, as she learns how to treat a variety of dental issues, from check-ups to pre-maxillary fractures. She credits her experiences as a 24-hour, on-call emergency dentist—dealing with lip contusions and lacerations—with helping her feel more comfortable in trauma situations.

Nataly owes her dental career completely to the military. “The Navy changed my life.”

Because she’s a military officer first and not only a dentist, Yoncee has had to do military training that most dentists can never imagine. She recently completed a casualty care course to prepare her for combat situations when she is assigned as a triage officer on a medical team for dealing with wounded soldiers in combat situations. The simulated mass casualty scenarios included wearing gasmasks for use in chemical warfare, dealing with injuries from IED bombs, pulling wounded soldiers back to safe areas and even firing back at the enemy.

Yoncee realizes that the military can take a toll on family life. So, she may later retire from the military and start her own practice as she hopes to have children someday. But before she does, she would like to serve on a Naval ship. Her military service has instilled discipline and self-confidence, and at age 30 she enjoys serving as a mentor to young corpsmen and corpswomen who know she’s been in their situation.

Yoncee volunteered at last year’s dental school Veterans’ Day event, offering free dental check-ups to veterans. “It’s odd to think of myself as a veteran,” she says, “but there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than defending my country.” She urges people not to forget “the people out there standing watch.”

Some of these alumni have searched out non-traditional settings to practice their art, while others have discovered an unexpected passion leading them to re-define the form of their dentistry. All are contributing invaluable services to their communities and patients, be they human or animal.

Kathleen A. Barrows, an East Bay freelance writer, is a contributor to Contact Point.

 

Eddie K. Hayashida | Humanism Personified

Sometimes, it’s the unexpected opportunities in life that provide the greatest rewards.

That’s how it happened for Dr. Eddie K. Hayashida. The longtime faculty member and administrator retired in June after nearly 40 years at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. In those years, he became such a devoted pillar of the Dugoni School community. It’s hard to believe this wasn’t his original plan.

After completing dental school at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1976, Hayashida worked for a few years at a private practice in Glendale, California. But soon, the pull of his roots in his native Bay Area brought him back home to be near family and open his own practice.

Two friends from UCLA, Drs. Richard Garcia and Dennis Hiramatsu who were instructors at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, suggested that since he wasn’t yet working full-time in clinical practice, perhaps Hayashida would like to volunteer at the school at 2155 Webster Street.

“My full intent was to start a private practice in Oakland or Piedmont,” said Hayashida, age 69. “I was going through things with the city planning commission, and at the same time was working as an associate in other dentists’ private practices. My friends invited me to University of the Pacific to teach a first-year preclinical course, and they said, ‘We can’t pay you yet.’ But I enjoyed it tremendously.”

He enjoyed it so much that it changed everything. By 1981, he was a full-time faculty member. And few who have walked through the doors of the Dugoni School of Dentistry aren’t grateful for the accidental path he chose.

“He helped and inspired generations of us as student leaders to become involved and make an impact on our school and then reach out into our practices, towns, organized dentistry, dental education and other places to leverage that leadership and impact our world,” said Dean Nader Nadershahi ’94. “There are generations of graduates who love Eddie and cherish what he has meant to us.”

His contributions include, but are by no means limited to: Associated Student Body faculty advisor for 25 years, faculty advisor to the Xi Psi Phi dental fraternity (including an award as the fraternity’s advisor of the year), member of the Kids in the Klinic Golf Committee, member of the Contact Point magazine editorial board and a coordinator for the school’s blood drive. He also created the Dr. Eddie K. Hayashida Student Government Endowment and has contributed more than $100,000 to the Dugoni School.

Hayashida has  received numerous awards and honors, including the Lucian Szmyd Memorial Award, the Alumni Association Medallion of Distinction, the association’s highest honor, and several Associated Student Body Faculty Awards.  He was recently honored by the Pacific Alumni Association with the 2017 Faculty Mentor Award as a professor who has made a lasting impact on students’ lives.

“There are generations of graduates who love Eddie and cherish what he has meant to us.”

But Hayashida’s impact was felt in other ways, too. Example: food. “Everyone remembers the calls from Dr. Hayashida when there was food available after a meeting or reception,” Nadershahi recalled. “All of the students would clear the study rooms and labs to come and be nourished for a long day or night of studying. He would organize the Dugoni School family Thanksgiving meal where students, and even some of our staff and faculty, would join together to celebrate the holidays and spend time with one another.”

And if he wasn’t feeding students, he was helping them advance their careers. In his tenure, Hayashida wrote hundreds of letters of recommendation to help students get into graduate programs, mentored thousands of students and even donated his own frequent flier miles so one student could fly to an interview for a postdoctoral position. In addition, Hayashida interviewed countless prospective dental students as a member of the Admissions Committee for 27 years and continues to do so in retirement.

In every way, Hayashida exemplifies the humanistic model of education, said Dr. Arthur A. Dugoni ’48, dean emeritus. “For four decades, Dr. Hayashida has played an amazing role in the development and growth of the dental school as an educator, clinician, mentor, leader and champion for students, and the humanistic model of education,” Dugoni said. “There was never any job that was too small or too big for Dr. Hayashida to tackle. It was not necessary to ask him to accept a responsibility because he was always there before he was even asked. He lives the professional model of integrity, loyalty and making a difference.”

His commitment to the school is so strong that he even put off his retirement for a year to help Nadershahi transition smoothly into his new position of dean.

But despite retirement time finally coming, Hayashida is still a presence on campus and at school events, such as the recent Alumni Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel. When he’s not traveling, fishing, golfing or volunteering at a local food bank, Hayashida plans to work as an adjunct faculty member.

One reason he’ll stay involved is simply that the Dugoni School community is like family to him. “A lot of my very best friends are former students and current faculty members,” he said.

The other reason he’ll stay involved, however, is the same reason he stayed at the Dugoni School of Dentistry in the first place all those years ago. The school’s mission of serving others was the perfect fit with his own personal ambition. “One of the biggest driving forces in my life has been serving others,” he said. “I want to be known and remembered for what I did for other people.”

Low Family Receives University Honor

The Pacific Alumni Association recognized the Low family with the 2018 Outstanding Family Award at its 59th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on January 27 at the Don and Karen DeRosa University Center on the Stockton campus. Created in 1964, this award honors a family with members who have attended the University and who have given special service, made outstanding contributions and brought great honor to Pacific.

The Low family, dedicated to service, education and making a difference, has set an exemplary standard of commitment to Pacific. There have been 16 Low family members who have attended or are attending Pacific, and 11 of them have attended the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

The first generation of family members includes the late Dr. Howard Low ’38, the late Dr. William G. Low ’43 and the late Dr. Lawrence K. Low ’44. The second generation includes Hanmin Liu DDS, PhD ’66 COP, a past recipient of Pacific’s Distinguished Professional Service Award; Dr. Everett Low ’74; Dr. Gary Low ’76, who serves on the Dugoni School Foundation Board; Dr. Willard Low ’77; Dr. Lester Low ’86, who has served as an adjunct professor at the Dugoni School of Dentistry; Wendy Low ’86 MUS; Dr. Lyndon Low ’88, who served on the Pacific Alumni Association Board from 2001-2006; and Dr. Richard R. Gallagher ’99 (husband of Mari-Ann Low). The new generation includes Kristin Okazaki ’08 BUS, Dr. Jennifer Low ’12, Dr. Christian Low ’14 and current students Carina Low, Pharmacy Class of 2018,  and Jonathan Low, DDS Class of 2019.

Pacific Takes Center Stage at San Francisco Economic and Workforce Summit

Provost Maria Pallavicini represented University of the Pacific on June 6 at UpdateSF 2017, the rebranded economic forecast and jobs forum in San Francisco. The event drew a sold-out crowd of more than 250 leaders from business, health care, education, public policy and more. Pacific’s presence offered a significant opportunity to raise the University’s visibility with Bay Area leaders.

Provost Pallavicini opened the event with remarks on the importance of an educated and prepared workforce and moderated a panel discussion with Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner and LinkedIn’s Head of U.S. Public Policy Nicole Isaac, looking at the region’s economic trends and workforce needs in light of education, public policy and politics.

In her remarks, Provost Pallavicini discussed how Pacific is working to meet the workforce needs of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Northern California region through its programs on all three campuses.

Vitner spoke on the latest economic trends and Isaac discussed how using data can help us adapt to changes in the global workforce. SF Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tallia Hart also discussed how the SF Chamber and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development work to strengthen the economy of San Francisco. In her remarks, Provost Pallavicini discussed how Pacific is working to meet the workforce needs of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Northern California region through its programs on all three campuses.

Several other Pacific representatives from various programs across the University were in attendance, including Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, dean of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, and Dr. Richard Fredekind, executive associate dean.

Frank A. Brucia ’44A | From the Heart

At the 118th Annual Alumni Meeting in March 2017, Dean Nader A. Nadershahi ’94 announced the creation of the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Loyalty Society. “In recognition of Dr. Brucia’s 50 consecutive years of philanthropy, we are creating this donor society in his honor to acknowledge consistent giving to the dental school,” Nadershahi told attendees at the plenary session. “It is a fitting way,” he continued, “to observe Frank’s 100th birthday. He has given to our school every year consecutively for half of his lifetime.”

Alumnus Frank A. Brucia ’44A is glad to share a lifetime of learning experiences with the Dugoni School of Dentistry family. It might be a little lesson in the Italian language or what makes a great cup of espresso (dark and sweet). You might hear what makes a great dental practice or learn about consistency in philanthropy. He may also tell you about his happy 69-year marriage to his late wife, Helen. Brucia, at 100 years of age, speaks from experience and from the heart.

A first-generation American, Brucia was born in San Francisco on March 23, 1917 to an Italian family who had moved to the West Coast for business in wine and olives, and to contribute to the founding of the San Francisco Opera. He wanted to be a chemist. Even as a student at Galileo High School, he enlisted his friends to sign up for a summer course in chemistry at University of San Francisco; he remembers how the kind nuns brought them cookies and how much he enjoyed chemistry. His father suggested, however, that he was better suited for an occupation where he could be self-employed. After graduating from University of California, Berkeley, Brucia tried dentistry by attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry).

“He has given to our school every year consecutively for half of his lifetime.”

“I didn’t love dentistry at first,” Brucia reveals, “but the more I practiced, the more positive I became and then I saw it as a beautiful profession.” With World War II in progress, upon graduation in 1944, he and his classmates were inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps as first lieutenants—the war effort needed dentists. Brucia was eventually sent to Florida, where he met his future wife, Helen Marie, a dental assistant from North Carolina. When his war adventures took him overseas, he was doing prosthodontics for the U.S. military in Japan, an assignment he was told “did not exist on paper” (translation: no funding) in a tiny, ill-equipped lab and a jeep that also “did not exist on paper.” The war ended; Brucia was discharged and married his sweetheart Helen at the Presidio in San Francisco. Three children, Kristina (Davis), Ric Brucia and Dr. Jeff Brucia ’88, followed.

The early days, however, were not easy, as Brucia delights in recounting. When he and Helen began planning and setting up his private practice in the Dante Building at 1606 Stockton Street in North Beach, it was difficult to make ends meet. In fact, he reports that for the month of November 1946, his practice earned a mere $6.50. He couldn’t make the rent. He went on the road with a mobile dental unit, treating the children who lived in migrant worker camps in the Sacramento Valley. He enjoyed the work and paid the bills, while Helen was setting up appointments and expanding the practice back at the office.

“I didn’t love dentistry at first,” Brucia reveals, “but the more I practiced, the more positive I became and then I saw it as a beautiful profession.”

As Brucia’s dental practice began to thrive, as it does to this day under the guidance of his son Jeff, he became more and more involved in prominent dental organizations, most notably the California Dental Association (CDA) and the San Francisco Dental Society (SFDS). In April, the SFDS dedicated the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Meeting Room, honoring him as a former board member, president, trustee and delegate to CDA, as well as substantially contributing to the acquisition, set-up and remodeling of the building that the SFDS calls home.

Brucia began his relationship with the Dugoni School of Dentistry, then known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons, 77 years ago. His support for the dental school has been amply demonstrated over the years by his donations of time, talent and treasure, earning him the Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Medallion of Distinction in 2000. In addition to giving to the Dugoni School consecutively for 50 years, he unequivocally loved interviewing prospective students as a member of the Admissions Committee and continued to do so as a retiree until it became too difficult to hear well enough. The decibel levels of older dental drills and other equipment Brucia used back in the day had taken their toll.

What words of wisdom or lessons does Brucia have to share as a centenarian? He laughingly says, “Always have 25% children as your patients. It perpetuates your practice and you can send the challenging patients to a pediatric specialist.” It also ensured that dozens of grateful former patients were around to appreciate and recognize their beloved Dr. Brucia with cards and notes on his 100th birthday. On a more serious note, Brucia iterates what he has told generations of students, “Don’t limit yourself to the curriculum. Go beyond the requirements.” His ideal is to “pursue perfection, and then you’ll achieve excellence. Always chase something beyond your reach.”

Brucia is supremely modest about his history, saying “I was not a super dentist, but I achieved the maximum I could with my skills, and always tried to do more.” To look at his many contributions as a dental professional, a business leader, a father and husband, Brucia has more than achieved excellence.

The basis of donor recognition in the Dr. Frank Brucia Loyalty Society is 10 consecutive years of giving to the Dugoni School of Dentistry and $50,000 lifetime total giving. Associate Dean for Development Jeff Rhode explains, “We want to recognize our alumni and friends who have given generously and faithfully over time as well as a lifetime of giving, and Dr. Frank Brucia has provided a shining example of how that can build over 50 years of philanthropy.”

If you would like information about membership in the Dr. Frank A. Brucia Loyalty Society, please contact Anita Ayers, manager of the Annual Fund, at aayers@pacific.edu or 415.929.6402.

Planning for the Future of Dental Education

By Dr. Elisa M. ChÁvez Luna

Even the most forward-thinking, outward-facing institution needs to periodically take the time to reflect. As the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry maps its new strategic plan to Transform the Future of Dental Education, we reached out to several leaders in organized dentistry and academia to get their perspectives on where we have been and where we are headed as an educational institution and as a profession. Certain themes surfaced, including changing demographics, ongoing disparities in health care, new expectations for dental education, access to dental care and changing models of practice, reimbursement and the value of oral health care.

What has been the biggest challenge to dental education in the last 20 years?

We asked Dr. Mike Alfano, president and founding member of The Santa Fe Group and dean emeritus of New York University School of Dentistry, for his perspective on the biggest challenge to dental education in the last 20 years. Although difficult to choose just one, Alfano pointed to the limited success of recruiting a diverse group of dental students. “We are not much better off in the diversity of underrepresented minorities.” Disparities in oral heath tell us that certain groups and populations of people have more unmet needs than others and often these same groups are also underrepresented in the dental profession. This can create a barrier to care in some communities and young people in these communities lack role models to follow into the profession.

Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, dean of the Dugoni School of Dentistry and Santa Fe Group member, agrees that this has been an issue and emphasized that continued awareness and effort is needed to recruit a more diverse faculty as well. He points to an up-and-coming diversified faculty workforce as one of the bright spots in the future of dental education. “The increasing diversity in all forms, including gender, ethnicity and previous experiences, will allow our nation’s faculty to provide the mentoring and leadership needed to inspire the next generation of oral healthcare providers as they create the innovative solutions in scholarship and teaching and learning environments that will keep our nation’s academic health institutions at the forefront among our global colleagues.” The Dugoni School of Dentistry is dedicated to the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty in order to bring innovative ideas and create new role models in leadership while attracting and inspiring a more diverse student body.

The Dugoni School of Dentistry is dedicated to the recruitment and retention of a diverse faculty in order to bring innovative ideas and create new role models in leadership while attracting and inspiring a more diverse student body. — Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi ’94

When we asked Dr. Rick Valachovic, president and CEO of the American Dental Education Association, for his pick as the biggest challenge to dental education in the last 20 years, he responded, “It has been finding our place in the broader worlds of higher education and the health professions…. and …a tradition of isolation from the academic health center and the university.” He continued, “Dentistry has discovered the roles that we can play as a learned profession in the academy. As a successful example, one needs to look no farther than the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and its strong relationship with the other schools and administration of University of the Pacific.”

Our strong relationship with our University can empower us to change paradigms in dental education and advance interprofessional collaboration beyond traditional realms of health care.

What changes in dentistry and health care will have the greatest impact on dental education?

Dean Nadershahi sees changing paradigms in health care, education and the role of dentistry as potentially having the greatest impact on dental education and the greatest potential impact on our school. “Increasing our understanding of the importance of oral health to overall health and well-being in all stages of life will continue to shift practice models, reimbursement models and educational systems. This will require the educational system at the Dugoni School to graduate leaders prepared to help move our profession into a new golden age of health where our graduates will be recognized and reimbursed for the great value they bring to person-centered and community-centered health.”

Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association, feels that it is imperative “to resolve once and for all the disconnect between promoting oral health as critical to overall health, as dental care is core to primary care.”

Students must be taught their role as team members and learn the roles of others to become a part of and to lead successful teams. — Marko Vujicic

In order to establish dentistry’s role in the broader health professions, we cannot teach students that oral health is a critical component of total health and wellness yet send graduates into practice with the idea that they may exist independently from the rest of the healthcare system. For those committed to private practice, their business and practice models must be developed to compete and collaborate with larger enterprises. Dentists who are prepared to reach into their respective healthcare communities and to function as an integral component of comprehensive health care will be critical to individual success and to our collective success in demonstrating that oral health is not an elective element in health and wellness.

Vujicic added, “If you want to train clinicians to become leaders of oral health teams, able to supervise other dentists, hygienists, collaborate with physicians and community health workers, but not necessarily tied to doing restorative dentistry all day, you have to rethink your curriculum.”

Students must be taught their role as team members and learn the roles of others to become a part of and to lead successful teams. This does not diminish the importance of excellent clinical skills for which Dugoni School of Dentistry has and will continue to be known. New practice models can free those who wish to focus on clinical skills. And importantly, practitioners with strong clinical skills and knowledge, combined with a broad foundation in medicine and experience in the provision of health care as part of a team will help shape standards for quality in dentistry and medicine.

Peter DuBois, executive director of the California Dental Association and Santa Fe Group member, said, “Dentistry tends to lag behind other medical disciplines in providing and measuring the quality of care received. As our healthcare system continues to change for both political and financial reasons, and dentistry is considered for integration with healthcare delivery systems, it is reasonable to assume that payers and patients/consumers will expect some uniform quality/outcomes metrics.”

Valachovic believes that dental schools can improve both the quality of care and education by evaluating the impact from technology, practice models and consumerism in dental school environments. The Dugoni School of Dentistry must prepare graduates to define and achieve outcomes in health and wellness in a broad healthcare environment.

Do you think the institutions in California have any opportunities or challenges that institutions in other areas in the country do not?

DuBois reflected on the opportunities and challenges specific to California institutions and how they could be leveraged to benefit our state and dental education. We are challenged by an expensive location and high cost of living. In addition, the cost of living adds to the total educational expense; and for those who wish to practice in urban areas, professional competition is intense. But our location and resources are still a draw to many people, and in particular to Millennials who are often drawn to urban areas.

“Fourteen million Californians—half of all children and a third of all adults—are eligible for care through the state’s Medicaid dental program, Denti-Cal,” said DuBois. “The recent approval of Proposition 56 is expected to help improve access to care through additional funding for the state’s office of oral health, restoring full adult Denti-Cal benefits and increasing provider reimbursement rates. By serving California’s Denti-Cal population, dental school students can hone their clinical skills and gain an improved understanding of the unique needs required of this population while providing much-needed dental care.”

Fourteen million Californians—half of all children and a third of adults—are eligible for care through the state’s Medicaid dental program, Denti-Cal.
— Peter DuBois

Alfano views access to affordable dental care as one of the biggest challenges to our profession and society over the last 20 years and believes we have a long way to go. Nadershahi believes having six strong dental programs in our state represents an opportunity for the deans and academic leaders to share ideas and resources and leverage their positive partnerships with the California Dental Association to improve education and access to care as an opportunity. “By working collaboratively, we can address the major issue of the rising costs of delivering high quality education for our students and care to the underserved in our communities,” said Nadershahi.

What are the three most important things we can do as an institution, right now, to prepare ourselves for the future?

Dr. Cindy Lyon ’86, associate dean for Oral Health Education at the Dugoni School of Dentistry, explained that she has a vision for the Dugoni School’s educational program which includes: 1) moving from mechanically based to biologically based therapies; 2) teaching our students how to work in an interprofessional, collaborative environment; and 3) stressing the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values and problem-solving abilities in equal measure. Additionally, Lyon and several leaders suggested that providing alternative learning formats such as small groups, online learning and experiences that model success in collaborative environments are needed. Many respondents noted the importance of recognizing that the interests, views and expectations of new generations are different from those of generations that came before. We need to provide them with the support and the skills they will need to negotiate a rapidly changing and increasingly integrated healthcare environment with integrity and excellence.

While we address internal pedagogy and culture, we must also have the courage to address external influences and forces. Nadershahi believes we must foster closer bonds and working relationships between all stakeholders focusing on oral health including but not limited to our profession, education, licensing bodies, legislators, funders, community partners and others. He also believes we should define the most important outcomes measures to assess the value we bring to a person’s and population’s health and clearly define the role and value of oral health as a critical lead in the overall health of our communities and healthcare delivery models.

What can the Dugoni School of Dentistry offer to the future of dental education that others cannot?

This final question was posed to Dean Nadershahi. “The Dugoni School has a rich history of creating a humanistic culture and learner-centered educational models. This focus and history will help lead the changes necessary for the future of oral health education and newly evolving collaborative care models.”

The Dugoni School of Dentistry experience, preparation and expectation to apply a humanistic approach in practice and leadership can give our graduates an advantage in any practice model. Our purpose at the Dugoni School is to help people lead healthy lives and with that in mind, we can’t wait for the future as our future is now.

Dr. Elisa M. Chávez Luna is an associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences and serves as chair of the Strategic Planning Oversight Committee.