UW News

December 18, 2012

Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service gives $1.15 million to transform education of dentists

School Of Dentistry

Dec. 14 Dentistry Retreat 2012

At the School of Dentistry’s faculty retreat Dec. 14, Dean Joel Berg (center) joins Dr. David Branch (left), chair of Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service board of directors, and Jim Dwyer, president and CEO of the insurer.Steve Steinberg

The School of Dentistry has announced a gift of $1.15 million from Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service to support the school’s vision of transforming dental education.

Under Dr. Joel Berg, who became dean on Aug. 15, the school has launched a wide-ranging plan to revamp its clinical education and curriculum. The goal is to produce the “dentist of the future” – an oral health practitioner on the leading edge of technology, research and best practices in patient care.

“At Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service, we strongly support Dean Berg and his compelling vision for the future of dental education and what dentistry can be,” said Jim Dwyer, president and chief executive officer. “We believe his plan will help ensure that the people of Washington will continue to receive the highest standard of patient care, and we fully share that goal.”

Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service is part of the nation’s largest dental insurance network, Delta Dental, which has more than 50 million members. Its gift will help Dentistry fund the initial phase of its undertaking in the current academic year.

“For years Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service has been a valued and loyal supporter of the School of Dentistry, and I’m thrilled with their new contribution, which could not come at a better time,” Berg said. “Our school has historically been a national leader in dental education. However, our continued leadership depends on implementing a new model that incorporates advances in science and technology, a greater emphasis on prevention, and the integration of oral health into overall health.

“Their investment in our vision greatly enhances our ability to deploy the people and resources we need to bring about these needed changes. Their scope demands that we implement them not in a piecemeal fashion, but with a unified strategy. With Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service’s help, we can do just that.”

The gift will facilitate the addition of several critical faculty and staff positions and also support the work of several task forces appointed by Berg shortly after he became dean. These include a curriculum renovation task force and a clinical systems task force.

While the School of Dentistry is committed to major changes, Berg said, it will continue to emphasize a high standard of excellence in restorative dental education. “Our school has always been known as a standard-bearer in restorative dentistry, and that will not change as we move forward,” he  said. “Restorative dentistry will always be at the heart of our training.

“At the same time, far-reaching changes are coming to dentistry. New accreditation standards demand that we place more emphasis on interprofessional education and evidence-based dentistry. We must also continue to continue to train dentists with the highest ethical standards and cultural sensitivity – dentists who are fully prepared to serve all parts of the community.”

In addition to its enhanced partnership with Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service, Berg noted that the School of Dentistry has already begun reaching out to other partners for expertise and support in the school’s transformation. Recently the school hosted several corporate executives for a three-day brainstorming session on updating and streamlining the school’s clinical operations. The school has also initiated a collaboration with the UW Foster School of Business to help Dentistry revamp its business operations.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about producing the best dentists and the best patient care,” Berg said.

“Dean Berg often says, ‘Good patient care is the best education,’ and that’s a big reason why we find his vision so appealing,” Dwyer said.

Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service, a UW Presidential Laureate, also supports Dentistry scholarships, and in 2007 gave a $5 million gift that provided the impetus for the school’s Center for Pediatric Dentistry, which opened in September 2010. A partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital, the $21 million facility at Magnuson Park in Seattle is a center of research and education as well as pediatric oral health care.