KCU Joplin to begin accepting dental school applications

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Mar. 5—Kansas City University's College of Dental Medicine, under construction in Joplin, has been approved to begin accepting applications for its first class of 80 students.

KCU officials said this week that the college has received initial accreditation status from the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

"With this initial accreditation status, our new College of Dental Medicine stands ready to impact the oral health for our Four-State Region," said Marc B. Hahn, KCU's president and CEO, in a statement. "This will further KCU's mission of improving the well-being of the communities we serve. Receiving initial accreditation exemplifies years of exceptionally hard work and effort from our outstanding faculty, staff and administrative teams, along with community leaders, donors and charitable foundations whose support will bring the College of Dental Medicine to fruition."

The dental school will fill a "serious health care gap" in the region, officials say. All counties within a 100-mile radius of Joplin qualify as a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. More than 700 additional dentists in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas are needed to remove that designation.

KCU is investing $80 million to $100 million in the college and its construction, which is underway at the site of its osteopathic medical school in Joplin. Regional fundraising efforts have helped with more than half the cost.

"The College of Dental Medicine will have a unique community-based curriculum that will engage regional health systems, community health centers and local dentists," said Linda C. Niessen, founding dean of the college, in a statement. "In addition, close work with the medical school and other university programs will add a strong population health component to the coursework."

At full enrollment, the college will have 320 dental students total in the four-year program. The first class is projected to start in July 2023.