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Donation enables UMKC to establish practice management curriculum

Kansas City, Mo.—The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry received $1.5 million to endow a chair in practice management to help manage a new curriculum to prepare students to manage their own practice.

University dental school leaders, in partnership with the Center for Research and Education in Technology, are creating a clinic that could bridge the gap between education and practice, marrying science, technology and practice management to help students transition into their careers, said Dr. Marsha Pyle, dean of the UMKC School of Dentistry. They will build an Innovation Clinic at the dental school, which will operate similarly to a small dental practice and allow students to see patients from Kansas City, fostering both their clinical and business skills.

“Since the school’s inception in 1881, we’ve been educating excellent dental clinicians. By establishing a faculty position and a facility dedicated to practice management, we’re making an unprecedented commitment to preparing our graduates to be both excellent dentists and successful business people,” Dr. Pyle said in a news release announcing the practice management chair.

Students will work with dental hygiene students and dental assistants and be involved in the clinic’s day-to-day operation, including scheduling, ordering supplies, solving personnel problems, record-keeping and billing. UMKC officials want to help the students learn how to deal with similar scenarios they will face in their future practice, including managing a staff, hiring and firing people, financing a practice, managing debt and setting realistic financial goals. 

Dr. Pyle also wants to expose students to the latest equipment and technology available so once they do start their own practice, they’ll be able to make an evidence-based decision on what to purchase.

“Applying principles of evidence-based decision-making to product and equipment choices provides the opportunity to bring scientific review into the reality of daily practice,” Dr. Pyle said in the news release.

The endowed chair was thanks to a combined gift from alums Dr. Gary McCabe Ross of Albuquerque, N.M., Dr. Onas Johns (deceased), who was from Springfield, Mo., and Dr. Charles Squire and his wife Margit Squire of Wichita, Kansas.

“With this gift, my wife Margit and I wish to further the commitment to excellence at the UMKC School of Dentistry by helping future dental professionals make wise and informed decisions regarding practice management and enhance the quality of their overall patient care,” said Dr. Squire, who graduated in 1968. 

Dr. Ross, who graduated in 1980, says the announcement of a practice management chair is “truly a dream come true for me.”

“Some years ago, I came to realize that the UMKC School of Dentistry provided me with the education and technical skills to practice my chosen profession. However, few of us ever entered dental school with the slightest notion that in order to become successful in the practice of dentistry, we would also have to become successful in the art of the business world,” Dr. Ross said.

There are currently 608 students in the dental school, and the curriculum will be integrated over all four years, Dr. Pyle said.

“We’re just at the beginning of our planning, but it’s moving very rapidly,” Dr. Pyle said. “This has really resonated with a lot of our alumni that we’ve talked to. They recognize this is a need.”

Image: Donors Margit Squire, Dr. Chuck Squire, Dr. Gary McCabe Ross and Stephanie Ross stand with Dr. Marsha Pyle
Endowment: Donors, from left, Margit Squire, Dr. Chuck Squire, Dr. Gary McCabe Ross and Stephanie Ross stand with Dr. Marsha Pyle, dean of the UMKC School of Dentistry, at the announcement of their gift to the school.