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UMKC unveils Innovation Center


Dr. Pyle
Kansas City, Mo.—The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry has a new tool to help its students transition into their careers.

The school unveiled Sept. 16 the Dr. Charles Dunlap Innovation Center for Research and Education in Technology, a test and simulation lab for students.

The innovation center will operate similarly to a small dental practice, allowing students to get hands-on experience in practice management, including solving human resources issues, billing, record-keeping, scheduling, financing a practice and managing debt.

Also, in partnership with the Center for Research and Education in Technology, students are exposed to the latest equipment and technology used in dentistry. Founded in 2004, CRET is a nonprofit association of dental industry leaders that partners with academic institutions to develop technology education programs.

"Equipment is a major investment when opening a practice," said Dr. Marsha Pyle, UMKC dean. "The center will give students the understanding, skills and confidence they need to be successful entrepreneurs and empathetic, astute care providers by applying their knowledge in practical exercises."

Dr. Pyle said this allows students to make evidence-based decisions on what equipment to purchase when starting their own practice.

About $2.25 million was raised for the center, including a $1.5 million endowment from alumni. The Stanley H. Durwood Foundation, which also helped fund the project, and other donors chose to name the innovation after Dr. Dunlap, who had a 45-year career at UMKC.

The innovation center includes some of the latest in technology including dental chairs, lighting systems, laser handpieces, digital X-ray equipment, and computer-aided design and manufacturing equipment, said Dr. Edward Rossomando, director of CRET. Six manufacturers donated the equipment to the 2,026-square-foot center.

"Since about 2000, the rate of innovation in dental technology has been astounding," said Dr. Rossomando. "As a result, many dental schools have not been able to able to keep up with the acquisition of new technology."

The school's innovation center is the second in the nation as part of effort by CRET to ensure dental students can keep up with an increasingly technology-driven world. Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in California opened a similar innovation center earlier this year.

"This project resonated with a lot of people as something truly helpful to our students," Dr. Pyle said. "Over the years, students wanted more experience in practice management to add value to their education. This project merges education, practice management and technology."