Kirksville's brand-new dental school gets the OK to open

The new school is set to open Oct. 1, 2014. Photo: John Garlock

Kirksville's brand-new dental school gets the green light to open.

A.T. Still University announced Friday that its Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health recently received its initial accreditation.

That means it is set to open its doors on October 1, welcoming its first class of 42 students.

They were selected from 954 applicants. The students represent 19 states. Nine of them are from Missouri.

The school's dean, Christopher Halliday, DDS, told KTVO this school has a first-of-its-kind program to train its students.

"What's unique about the school, the dental students will do first and second years here in Kirksville, Missouri, and starting the third year and continuing through the fourth and final year, our students will be training with the clinical portion of the training in Community Health Centers and federally qualified health center settings,â?? said Halliday. â??So, our students will be working within these federally qualified health centers during the final two years of dental school."

Halliday said at most other dental schools, students train at a clinic located right on campus.

The mission of the Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health is to increase access to oral healthcare for Missouri's underserved residents.

Unlike any other dental school in the Midwest, graduates of ATSU's dental school will earn a certificate of public health, in addition to a doctor of dental medicine (DMD) degree.

Officials said the partnerships with the Community Health Centers are expected to increase retention with Missouri's oral health workforce by encouraging graduates to practice public health dentistry.