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Thursday, October 06, 2022

UF, FAMU to expand dental programs

UF has altered plans to expand its dental school and will work with two Florida universities that had planned to build their own dental schools.

Florida A&M University, which originally requested funds from the state to open its own dental school, will now work with UF to funnel students into UF's dental program, said Karen Rhodenizer, communications director for the College of Dentistry.

The University of Central Florida is still going ahead with plans to open its own dental school. If its proposal is approved, UF will provide the school with consulting services, such as help with curriculum development, Rhodenizer said.

Initial plans for the College of Dentistry to expand by 80 students and to renovate the 40-year-old dental science building were announced at the Sept. 14 Board of Governors meeting.

The new proposal seeks to expand by 48 students over four years, or 12 students per year.

UF and FAMU have submitted one proposal together to the Board of Governors. UCF will submit its own proposal.

Rhodenizer said the board is expected to vote on the proposals during its meeting on November 9 and 10.

UF and FAMU's proposal requests $2.2 million for renovations to the dental science building, a $1 million decrease from the first proposal.

The program would require $5.9 million in recurring funds by its fourth year.

UF has tried to secure funding to expand its dental school for several years, Rhodenizer said. Lately, there has been a renewed focus in Florida on improving access to dental care.

She said the idea of increasing class size in dental programs has much to do with bringing dentists into under-served areas.

"There are entire counties with no dentists that will accept patients with Medicaid," she said.

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The partnership with FAMU also seeks to increase diversity in the field of dentistry, a profession that historically hasn't attracted minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, Rhodenizer said.

FAMU may revisit the idea of opening a dental school in the future, she said, but in the current economy, there simply isn't enough money.

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