Many universities are divided into emphasis areas to allow students to focus on their specific studies, but A. T. Still University in Kirksville is not. Their administrative faculty realized different emphasis areas work together to strengthen each other.
Medical and dental students are now sharing a building at the Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health. Many were invited to the inauguration of the interprofessional education building Thursday. In attendance were the inaugural class of 42 dentistry students, professors, colleagues and Dean Chris Halliday.
Halliday says the mission at A.T. Still University is to increase the access to health care for underserved populations, and the best way to do that is to join forces.
“There’s a movement within the country for health care professions education to move in a professional direction," Halliday said. "And the reason why dentistry is involved with interprofessional education is that oral health is integral with overall health. One of our former surgeon generals stated it best: you cannot have good overall health if you do not have good oral health.”
While working side by side in the new building, medical and dental students will be able to take advantage of learning how to provide full body health care to patients and to communicate with each other.
Dental school student Jacob Hutchings says he is excited about the new building. He used to work in construction before he lost his job. According to Hutchings, dentistry is no different from construction: you’re still building things and helping people. It’s just on a smaller scale and in a family-friendly environment.
“The technology here is amazing," Hutchings said. "Everything’s up-to-date, state of the art, I mean, just really, really, really nice building. I’ve loved it, and coming from construction, I can really appreciate that as well.”
Halliday says the school won’t stop at technology.
“We’re going to really work hard to come up with some very innovative training programs that involve most medical and dental students," Halliday said. "And we want to make our mark in improving whole-person health care.”
Although the school year began Oct. 1, the School of Dentistry and Oral Health is already interviewing for the next class of students.