jOplin will soon be the smallest city in the United States with a medical school and a dental school.
Kansas City University officials on Thursday gave a tour of the new College of Dental Medicine at the Farber-McIntyre Campus in Joplin, showcasing a place where dentists will learn their craft with the latest technology.
“Every time I enter the building, I get chills because I see something new. It’s fun to show the building to people in the community,” said Dr. Linda Niessen, founding dean of the College of Dental Medicine. “I’m looking forward to the dental chairs because then it will feel like a dental school. It still doesn’t feel like a dental school.”
The $65 million addition to KCU Medical School in Joplin is expected to open this summer, with the first class of 80 students starting their orientation July 31.
Niessen said it will employ 70 faculty and 30 staff.
The 100,000-square-foot addition will double the amount of teaching space at the KCU Joplin campus and include a 68,000-square-foot oral health center where third- and fourth-year students will learn while providing dental care to the public under faculty supervision. There will be a 27,000 square foot dental education center with classrooms where first and second year students will learn their trade.
A 2,500-square-foot skyway between the Oral Health Center and the Dental Education Center will likely be the most visible part of the hilltop campus at 2901 St. John’s Blvd. It will serve as study space for students and provide views to the north and south .
“There will be a variety of furniture on this runway,” said Tim Saxe, director of strategic initiatives for KCU. “I predict this will be a very popular place for students to take some time out and study.”
Niessen, Saxe, and Kansas City University CEO Dr. Mark Hahn led the tour, describing some of the cutting-edge tools that will be available to students as they learn to become dentists.
Among the highlights:
• The oral health center has more than 80 operators in which students will take care of members of the public. These operating theaters are open at both ends but feature enhanced ventilation inspired by the need to manage a clinic in the face of viruses and diseases that can be spread through the air, such as the COVID-19 virus.
• Traditional X-ray machines and 3D X-ray machines that offer a better view of your teeth and mouth.
• A dental simulation laboratory which allows a class of students to train on simulated plastic heads and teeth, as well as virtual simulation labs that put students in a virtual world where they use virtual tools on virtual patients.
“We have four virtual simulation labs, and these are amazing,” Niessen said. “You put on the goggles and you get the handpiece, which is really air, you’re picking up air and drilling into a tooth that’s really air. You’re drilling and it just feels like you’re drilling a tooth. … We can recruit middle school and high school students and get them involved in that, and they can learn what it really feels like.
• Traditional and more modern tools making bridges and crowns using dental impressions or cameras that send images of the mouth to milling machines and 3D printers that make crowns.
“The industry is transitioning from milling to 3D printers, so we’ll see how that pans out,” Niessen said. “We are teaching them to practice dentistry from 2027 to 2077 and not in the previous century, so we want them to be competent doctors for the future.”
Saxe said the project is KCU’s largest capital project ever, with $48 million of the total $65 million going towards the building’s construction, about $9 million for the purchase of school equipment, and the remainder. for some of the aesthetic additions and for the welfare of the students .
Niessen said 70 of the top 80 spots in the first class of dental students are filled and the other 10 will soon be filled.
“If the students we accept go elsewhere, then we have a waiting list that we look into,” Niessen said. “We sent out 160 initial acceptances and sent the email at 12:05 on that day in December where medical students send acceptance letters. So our whole faculty called all the accepted students and the answer was they were happy, they cried.
“The joy we all felt as faculty was amazing because we felt we knew all these students because we had interviewed them, we had discussed them in the admissions committee. I underestimated the amount of joy we would all feel. It was a very special day.”