Kansas City University (KCU) is continuing a comprehensive feasibility study regarding the creation of a college of dental medicine to serve the “four corners” region of southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, northeast Oklahoma, and southeast Kansas to help meet the primary oral health needs of these communities.
Access to dentists is a challenge in the region, KCU reports, especially in rural areas. The Health Resources and Services Administration has designated most counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin, Missouri, as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, prompting KCU’s decision to pursue a college of dental medicine.
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center expects the state to need an additional 780 dentists by 2024. Currently, there is a limited number of dental schools in the four-state area to educate dentists to meet those needs. With a 102-year history of educating physicians and sciences, KCU aims to become a comprehensive health sciences university.
“KCU’s campuses in Kansas City and Joplin are working to meet the medical needs and improve health outcomes for these communities, especially in the area of primary care, and we’ve studied the region and identified key gaps in health profession workforces,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and CEO of KCU.
“KCU’s mission is to improve the well-being of the communities we serve. Establishing a college of dental medicine would further our pursuit of that goal. It would also build on the university’s osteopathic foundation, which focuses on an overall holistic philosophy of patient care, especially for underserved and diverse populations,” Hahn said.
The process will include further exploration of needs and anticipated regional economic impact, investigation of various funding sources, and identification of possible locations. The feasibility study also will explore accreditation and the development of possible community, clinical, public health, and higher education partnerships.