Late last year, the UCSF School of Dentistry received a $10 million anonymous gift from an alumnus — the school’s largest ever. The gift will establish an endowment dedicated to advancing faculty recruitment, retention, mentorship and development, and curriculum development. Here, Dean Michael Reddy talks about how UCSF School of Dentistry is poised to lead the profession into a new era of oral health care and science.
How do you foresee dentistry changing over the next 20 years?
The dental practice landscape will move from delivering oral health care to delivering oral health, with a focus on prevention and wellness. Oral health will become fully integrated into overall health care. Dental professionals will be more likely to work in group practices, hospitals, and academic health centers, delivering care with physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals. As a result, the oral health team will encounter patients with more complex conditions and will require advanced skills especially for pediatric and geriatric patients and others with special needs. Dental providers of the future will require strong teamwork and cross-functional skills.
What is your vision for the School of Dentistry?
The UCSF School of Dentistry aims to advance health by breaking new ground in education, patient care, and research — the core elements of our mission. I see us as leaders in eliminating the divide between oral health and overall health and in expanding our clinical reach through team-based care beyond the traditional private practice. We must eliminate the crippling debt that plagues our learners and continue to attract and retain the best faculty members. Through our faculty and curriculum, we will build upon our tradition of training dentists who are also scientists. I see our robust research program investing in clinical trials and implementation sciences to accelerate the pace at which discoveries benefit patients.
Why is faculty recruitment and retention so important?
In the coming years, we will witness significant changes in scientific discovery and health care, and we need scientists and clinicians to spearhead those changes as we expand how and where we deliver oral health care. We need to foster faculty development that includes more formal mentorship for our scientists and clinicians — conceivably a mentorship council that includes mentors from across UCSF, not just the School of Dentistry, that exposes faculty members to a broader and more diverse range of skillsets. It’s also important to bring people along through coaching, to provide opportunities for improving their skills and abilities and for nurturing their strengths.
Why is innovation so essential to UCSF’s dental curriculum?
The fundamental design of the US oral-health education model is nearly a century old. Our future dental professionals will need a different set of skills to support new models of team-based practice, informatics, and approaches for integrating information from multiple health disciplines. Our curriculum needs to bridge to other avenues of dental care delivery and less to the private-practice model. This is where the profession is going. Preparing our students for this shift positions them to be not just dentists but also true leaders in health.
How does philanthropy help accomplish your vision?
Philanthropy plays a crucial role in helping me, and future deans, fulfill our vision for the school. Philanthropy gives us additional resources for preparing our students to flourish and lead in the future, and ensuring that our faculty remains strong and able to carry on the school’s legacy of excellence. We are honored that an alumnus has entrusted the school with a $10 million endowment. The endowed fund will grow significantly over time and provide a steady stream of income for the future. UCSF has a legacy of leadership; philanthropic contributions like this one help us prepare the school to be a global leader in oral health and our students to receive the training they need to become the next generation of health leaders.