Month: April 2017

Dean MacNeil Assumes National Leadership Role

Chris DeFrancesco – School of Medicine and Dental Medicine

In addition to his role as dean of the UConn School of Dental Medicine, Dr. R. Lamont “Monty” MacNeil has begun a one-year term as chair-elect of the American Dental Education Association’s Board of Directors.

MacNeil’s appointment was effective March 21, at the conclusion of the ADEA Annual Session and Exhibition in Long Beach, California. He will begin serving a one-year term as board chair starting in March 2018.

“Dr. Monty MacNeil is precisely the kind of thoughtful, collaborative leader we need to stay ahead of continuous change in health care and higher education,” says Dr. Richard W. Valachovic, ADEA president and CEO. “His strategic vision and ability to bring people together will serve our Association well, especially as we work to ensure oral health is at the forefront of overall health in North America.”

The ADEA is “the voice of dental education” in North America. Membership includes more than 21,000 students, faculty, staff and administrators from all the dental schools in North America, as well as allied and advanced dental education programs and corporations committed to oral health education. Its mission is to lead institutions and individuals in the dental education community to address contemporary issues influencing education, research and the delivery of oral health care for the overall health and safety of the public.

“It is a great honor to be nominated and elected to lead this association that represents all of dental education in the United States and Canada,” MacNeil says.

MacNeil has served on the ADEA Board of Directors since March 2015. The board has 11 members and is responsible for leading the association in its interactions with its members, affiliated academic institutions, government agencies and corporate partners. The board reports to the ADEA House of Delegates and is empowered to establish ad hoc interim policies, rules and regulations.

“We are addressing growing our advocacy capacity, expanding our professional development portfolio, nurturing student interest, and increasing our global impact through heightened interaction with our neighbors and international colleagues in dental education,” MacNeil says. “There is no question that the reputation of the University of Connecticut and School of Dental Medicine has contributed to my selection as chair-elect, and that our school will benefit from the exposure and opportunities that this service to dental education will provide.”

MacNeil Reappointed as Dental Dean

Dr. R. Lamont “Monty” MacNeil has been reappointed to a third five-year term as dean of the UConn School of Dental Medicine.

A comprehensive University review led by the Office of the Provost determined the dental school has continued to excel in its missions of teaching, research, clinical care, and public service, as well as in national reputation and fiscal management, under MacNeil’s leadership.

“UConn is incredibly proud of Dean MacNeil, whose strong leadership of our prestigious dental school has contributed so much to its ongoing excellence,” said Susan Herbst, president of UConn. “We are thrilled that he is on our team, where he is championing innovation in dental medicine, research, and the education of the next generation of dentists.”

MacNeil joined the UConn School of Dental Medicine in 1998. Since his initial appointment as Dean in 2007, the school had two perfect accreditation reviews, meaning the governing body had no recommendations for improvement. Accreditations are done every seven years; the most recent was in 2015.

“In addition to the highly successful accreditation reviews, we’re most proud of the continued success of our academic programs, in terms of both residency programs and our predoctoral DMD program,” MacNeil says. “Just as important has been the sustained, steady growth of our research activities, including the recent formation of a new Department of Biomedical Engineering, which will have its primary physical home in the School of Dental Medicine. Along the way, with help from the Bioscience Connecticut project, we’ve been able to renew the facilities that support all of our missions and this will be a great asset for students, staff and faculty long into the future.”

Recruiting of faculty for the new Biomedical Engineering Department, now a collaboration of the UConn Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Engineering, is underway, and the first five recruits will be appointed as dental faculty. Ki Chon, professor of biomedical engineering in Storrs, has assumed the department head role for both campuses. The Farmington location will be on the sixth and seventh floors of UConn Health’s Laboratory (L) Building, adjacent to other dental school departments.

Emergency Dental Service Enhances Clinical, Academic Missions

The new emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital has a room dedicated for dental emergencies - one that features a dental chair in place of a stretcher. (Photo by Paul Horton)
The new emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital has a room dedicated for dental emergencies – one that features a dental chair in place of a stretcher. (Photo by Paul Horton)
Oral pain, bleeding and swelling can happen for any number of reasons, and they don’t restrict themselves to regular business hours.

It’s why UConn Health has had around-the-clock coverage for dental emergencies since the early 70s.

“We have the largest dental emergency service in the state,” says Dr. Steven Lepowsky, senior associate dean for education and patient care at the UConn School of Dental Medicine. “The service exists to address a significant unmet need. There are still, even in today’s world, people who do not have access to dental care and, unfortunately as a result of that, experience dental emergencies. But it’s also for patients who may be going for regular care but just have an emergent situation.”

On an average day, UConn Health sees nearly 60 dental emergencies in a 24-hour period. The most common are toothaches related to a cavity, root canal, or abscess.

The dental clinics, staffed by students and residents from the UConn School of Dental Medicine who work under faculty supervision, provide urgent dental care weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. After 6, patients with dental emergencies are treated in the emergency department.

And while the hours are nothing new, the setting for the after-hours care is.

Exterior of new emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)
Exterior of new emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

When UConn John Dempsey Hospital moved its emergency department to the new University Tower in May, it opened a new patient room dedicated for dental emergencies—one that features a dental chair in place of a stretcher.

“It replicates a full dental operatory, so it expanded the scope of what we could offer on an emergency basis after hours,” Lepowsky says. “It’s a much more pleasant environment for the patient. They don’t feel like they’re in an emergency room. Many emergency dental services are providing care on a hospital bed. This is one of the few where it’s actually a dental chair.”

From 6 to 10 p.m., a dental resident is on the premises to handle dental emergencies in the ED. After 10, patients who present with a dental emergency are assessed by medical staff with the discretion to bring in the dental resident on call when needed.

“There’s a resident and then there’s a second-year resident who provides backup, then if it’s something that they need additional assistance with, they call a faculty member,” Lepowsky says. “They’re predominantly general dentistry residents, but there are also oral surgery residents and pediatric dentistry residents on call based on what the needs of the patients are.”

That training component makes the emergency dental service a crucial piece of the dental school’s academic mission of teaching tomorrow’s dentists, just as it is to UConn Health’s clinical mission of serving all comers today.

“It’s a good educational experience for the students and residents because it helps them build skills in terms of how to diagnose a problem quickly, identify the source of the problem, and try to provide care that immediately addresses someone’s needs,” Lepowsky says.

While the dental room in the new ED enables a wider range of diagnostic and treatment options than the previous after-hours setting did, the concept has not changed.

“Our emergency dental service is not a 24/7 dental practice. It’s really to specifically address urgent needs that can’t wait,” Lepowsky says. “It’s not the correct environment for comprehensive dental care.”

Sometimes the course of action after hours is relieving the pain and sending the patient home. He or she would then return in the morning when the dental clinics are open.

“You want someone to establish a relationship with the provider and establish what we would refer to as a dental home, so there is someone who’s coordinating all their care,” Lepowsky says.

New Generation of Family Dentistry

Jeffrey Pan, student commencement speaker for the UConn School of Dental Medicine Class of 2016, with a patient in the dental clinic. (Photo by Ze Horak)
Jeffrey Pan, student commencement speaker for the UConn School of Dental Medicine Class of 2016, with a patient in the dental clinic. (Photo by Ze Horak)

Jeffrey Pan is the School of Dental Medicine Class of 2016 commencement speaker. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)
Jeffrey Pan is the School of Dental Medicine Class of 2016 commencement speaker. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Jeffrey Pan won’t be the first dentist in the family. Not even close.

His father is a well-known family dentist in Melrose, Mass., and his mother is a professor at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine.

And he won’t be the last. He has a younger brother who’s a first-year student at BU Dental, and a younger sister who is considering dentistry.

“I always joke with everyone that I got brainwashed when I was a kid,” Pan says. “I always wanted to be a dentist at a young age. We actually did live upstairs from the practice, and I would always come home from school and then go down and peak through the door and watch my father.”

When it came time for choosing a dental school, the UConn School of Dental Medicine was little more than a name on the list of institutions in the Northeast.

“I didn’t really know much about the program,” Pan says. “At the interview, I got a really good feeling about the program. Then I heard a lot of great things from people who were in dental school, or who had graduated and had heard about the program. It seemed like a very competitive program to get into, and it looked like it had everything that I was looking for in terms of an education and clinic experience.”

Pan chose UConn over BU, Tufts and Columbia. He describes his experience as a UConn dental student as tough and arduous.

“When they say in orientation this is not an easy program, they mean it,” Pan says. “But I think in the end it really has made us more confident in what we do, and prepared to go out as solo practitioners.”

One of the things he’ll remember most about the UConn School of Dental Medicine is the class size. Pan is one of 35 students who make up the Class of 2016. Because they got to know each other so well, he says they will have a network of people they can call on for questions and rely on as they enter the profession.

“The latter two years of clinic especially, I think it really solidified our knowledge from medical school to dental school, being able to integrate that knowledge and apply that to patients,” Pan says. “I think the workload they give us and the pressure they put on us, after a while it starts to inspire confidence.”

Pan says he’s always wanted to be like his father, and always wanted to work with his father. And that’s the plan: a year in BU’s general dental residency, and then back to the two-story building he grew up in, with Dr. Nelson Pan’s practice on the ground floor. Only this time, father and son will practice side by side.