KCU Joplin College of Dental Medicine Receives $3 Million from Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance

JOPLIN, Mo.–Joplin is once again about to open its first dental school.

Once the KCU Joplin College of Dentistry is completed, it will make Joplin one of the smallest communities with both a medical school and a dental school.

“The oral health facility, dental clinic, and dental education facility will be the most scientifically advanced facilities, not just in the United States, but in the world,” said the President and CEO. KCU management, Marc Hahn.

On Thursday, KCU Joplin received a three million dollar check from the Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance, the first payment as part of their commitment to the dental school.

“The Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance helped KCU raise funds for the dental school. They raised $10 million and the $10 million was transferred to the College of Dentistry. And the university was based on getting an initial accreditation. So because the University, the College of Dentistry, now has the initial accreditation that was awarded by the Commission on the Dental Association, we are abiding by the agreement and they can now transfer the money to us,” said said Dr. Linda Niessen, founding dean of the KCU College of Dentistry.

Hahn said the overwhelming community support helped the dental school grow.

“The Joplin community has been so supportive of the growth of the medical school and now the development of a new college, of dentistry…So this is an exciting time for the university, but also an exciting time for the community of Joplin.”

KCU Joplin still has work to do, so the dental school can welcome its first class of future dentists in the summer of 2023.

“We are continuing to build the Oral Health Center and renovate the facility here to become the Dental Education Center, where we will have classrooms, we will have study areas for students and offices for faculty. And then once we have completed the oral health center, then we have to equip it. And you saw the model lab. We will have 92. We will buy the instruments, the sterilization, the digital design lab, the simulation lab,” Dr. Niessen said.

As soon as the dental school opens, students will have access to unique, state-of-the-art equipment.

“We’re also investing in a virtual reality simulation… the virtual reality simulation unit is you, it’s almost like you’re sitting in front of a microscope, you know, you sit down but instead of looking into the microscope, you put on a helmet and then you see an image of a tooth. you take a handpiece that looks like a handpiece, then you drill and drill through a tooth. And you feel the density of the enamel, then you go through the enamel… So it feels very real,” Dr. Niessen said.

The new equipment will also be a way to inspire future dentists in the region.

“We’re going to use it for students when they start learning and we can use it when we recruit the next generation. We want to have pipeline programs to recruit elementary school and high school students, and they can come and play on this virtual reality simulator,” Dr. Niessen said.

The university has partnerships in place with community health centers in all four states ready to work with future Joplin dentists.

“We also work in partnership with Missouri Southern State University. They have a hygiene program there. So we want our dental students to work with the dental hygienist because it is important that they learn to work as a team,” Dr. Niessen said

Dr. Niessen says his ideal dental student at KCU is someone who wants to use their abilities to make the world a better place.

“I want them to understand that their responsibility is not only to improve the health of their patients, but also to be part of the community and to be ready to be a leader and to be part of the chamber of commerce, to being on the school board, maybe running for mayor, that they’re part of the community and helping to make it a better place.

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