Kansas City University (KCU) announced today it 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 primary oral health needs for these communities.
The decision to pursue a College of Dental Medicine stems from the significant unmet health care needs in this region – especially in the area of oral health. Access to dentists is a challenge, particularly in these rural areas. Most counties within a 125-mile radius of Joplin are designated as Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (DHPSAs) by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center projects an additional 780 dentists will be needed in the state by 2024. Currently, there is a limited number of dental schools in the four-state area to educate dentists to meet those needs.
KCU, with a 102-year history of educating physicians and scientists, has been growing to become a comprehensive health sciences university to improve the well-being of the communities it serves.
"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.”
The continuation of the feasibility study will ensure a thorough review and a strategic approach is taken in the decision for a College of Dental Medicine. 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 will also explore accreditation and the development of possible community, clinical, public health and higher education partnerships.