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Conspirators Delight final .pdf

Original filename: Conspirators Delight final.pdf
Title: Conspirators Delight
Author: Alan

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When we applied to UMKC School of Dentistry, we did so as it had a solid reputation in the dental
community. It was known for attracting the best and brightest students from throughout the country. These
students came largely out of the expectation of an excellent educational and clinical experience in dentistry.
UMKC has long been known for its large patient bank and comprehensive treatment system. The foundations
on which this education has been built are sound. When offered positions, we were proud to choose this
institution as the place we would receive our professional and clinical education. During our time here at
UMKC, we have tried to live up to the reputation that was set forth by our predecessors. As the leaders of our
respective classes, we feel we have a fiduciary responsibility to bring to light recent changes at the School of
Dentistry. The Dean frequently references her former institution as an example for changes here, however her
former institution does not enjoy the reputation of the UMKC School of Dentistry. We are greatly concerned
that many of the changes that have taken place here over the last couple of years are jeopardizing the
reputation and quality clinical education of this institution.
There are three main points that we would like to bring to your attention as we believe all of the other smaller
concerns we have fall somewhere within these issues. First, for reasons unknown to us, the patient pool at the
School of Dentistry has the lowest number of patients that it has had in recent memory. Second, as
professional students we expect to be treated as such and we believe professional courtesy and respect are
being lost at the School of Dentistry. Finally, there is a new focus within the School of Dentistry on profit
over education and patient care. For these reasons there is a real concern among both third and fourth year
students that they will not be able to meet the requirements that are needed to graduate on time and complete a
full, well-rounded clinical education.
The Commission on Dental Accreditation’s (CODA) Accreditation Standards for Dental Education Programs
(the standards to which dental schools are compelled to comply) manual on page 12 states that, “The dental
school must ensure the availability of adequate patient experiences that afford all students the opportunity to
achieve its stated competencies within a reasonable time.” In a recent survey of both third and fourth year
classes, the vast majority indicated that they only had between 5 - 10 patients actively seeking treatment. This
is nowhere near enough patients to provide us with adequate patient experiences or to fulfill the graduation
requirements set by the School of Dentistry. This topic has been raised with the administration numerous
times and yet the problem still exists. Many students have even been told to find their own patients, but at the
same time potential patients who call the School of Dentistry are told there is a 3-6 month wait to get in. We
feel that this is unacceptable, as it is the School of Dentistry’s responsibility to establish a screening system
that will provide us with a pool of patients so we are able to become competent practitioners.
Within the mission statement of the UMKC School of Dentistry is a list of 4 goals, listed first is the following:
“Provide educational programs that develop competent, compassionate, engaged life-long learners who will
become oral health practitioners, researchers and educators.” We believe that this goal is being undermined by
the emergence of a philosophy of production and profit over education and patient care. We understand and are
completely aware that there is a significant price tag that comes with operating a dental school and that state
funds have been cut in recent years. We also see nothing wrong with the school tightening its purse strings to
try to make every dollar go a little further. However, we believe that many of the newly instituted policies take
this too far and in doing so compromise our education, the quality of care we provide our patients, and our
ability to provide services to those patients who come to us in an emergency and are in pain.
An example of this focus on profit is the recent legislation passed by the Missouri legislature that was pushed
by the school administration without any discussion with faculty. This legislation has opened the door for the
school to hire non CODA trained dentists from any dental school in the world to work in “dental school
programs” (chapter 332, dentists, section 332.425) This means they can also practice in Missouri in these
clinics. This new class of faculty will be training UMKC (and AT Still) students in a CODA approved
program with no CODA education and their debt levels (foreign trained dentists) will be virtually nothing
compared to UMKC graduates. This is a gross devaluation of our education. In another example, the School of
Dentistry in the past has offered a credit extension to its emergency patients. It offered many of them the
chance to receive needed treatment and pay for it when they were able. Recently, the School of Dentistry

decided it would limit patients to one credit extension for the life of their time at the school, no matter if the
patient had paid any previous extensions in full. This policy change has caused many of our most vulnerable
patient population to leave the School of Dentistry in pain. It has also again limited the number of patients that
students are seeing in Emergency Chair and as a result in Oral Surgery. The patient population in this situation
has been cut nearly in half, severely decreasing the exposure students get to oral surgical and endodontic
procedures. These procedures are critical for graduation requirements and to be able to treat the public
competently, not to mention it was one area in which the school provided a “service to society” as outlined in
its mission statement.
The atmosphere in the School of Dentistry clinic is changing. The professionalism with which we are treated
has taken a steep decline, most notably within the last year. This phenomenon is exemplified in several areas.
One, students are closely monitored to make sure that they have all of their clinic appointments filled. Students
who do not have a complete schedule or have cancellations are required to assist another student, even if there
is nothing to assist on but a diagnosis or cleaning. This creates issues when students are trying to develop
patient treatment plans or work on lab work with faculty. The administration has also just limited the amount
of time each week we can assist in certain areas within the clinic. As developing professionals, we believe that
being micromanaged is not in our best interests. The amount of red tape and endless forms serve as roadblocks
to providing timely treatment for our patients. Needless to say, it does little to promote professionalism and
encourage confidence.
We have mentioned a number of times that students are concerned about their ability to complete the
requirements of clinic in time to graduate. The type or difficulty of patients we are able to see has also been
limited vastly from the type of patients seen at the dental school in the past. The new screening guidelines take
many patients out of the possibility for treatment by dental students (e.g. any patient that needs more than 8
crowns, or that currently has 8 crowns, cannot be treated). These decisions limit our ability to graduate and to
competently treat patients when we do graduate. The current leadership at the school seems to fear more
mainstream patients with anything that might be remotely difficult, and the type of patients that we will no
doubt see in our first week of practice after graduation. This is a “dumbing down” of our clinic education.
We appeal to you today as concerned future alumni of an institution that we feel is heading down a dangerous
path. Our fear is that vital financial support from alumni for UMKC will be diminished due to the
shortsighted, cost-cutting educational shortcuts taken by this administration. It is our belief that the current
administration is on a path that will diminish the reputation and prestige of the University of Missouri –
Kansas City School of Dentistry instead of one evolving to create highly qualified and compassionate dental
practitioners. We encourage you to contact us to and learn first-hand about these concerns. Please contact
Nathan Woodward at newfz9@mail.umkc.edu. We look forward to hearing from you.
With the overwhelming support of our classes,

Nathan Woodward
President, Class of 2013

Brett Waite
President, Class of 2014

Alan Johnson
Vice-President, Class of 2013

Misty Haungs
Vice-President, Class of 2014

Conspirators Delight final.pdf - page 1/2
Conspirators Delight final.pdf - page 2/2

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