Leading the Future of Dentistry

Phil MaruchaDear School of Dentistry community,

It is with great excitement that I join the OHSU School of Dentistry as dean! I am pleased to be in Oregon and at the dental school, and am enjoying getting to know all of you. 

I am eager to bring my experience in building new programs to OHSU and believe that, in part, destiny has brought me to you during this time of incredible transition in dentistry. A new facility on South Waterfront (thank you!), a new OHSU interprofessional education initiative, new technologies in dentistry and medicine, expanded community-based education programs, and an increasing collaboration with the dental community all will help shape the next few years at OHSU. 

We have a long tradition of excellent clinical education, loyal support from our alumni and dental community, a thriving health sciences university that wants dentistry involved, and a progressive state at the forefront of healthcare reform. This strong foundation will help us to shape the future of Oregon’s oral health and, hopefully, become a dental role model for the rest of the United States. 

Dentistry is changing faster than I can write this column. Our changing practice models and healthcare reform are requiring increased collaboration with our colleagues in the other health professions. Our aging baby boomer population is bringing more specialized health needs into our practices and clinics. We have new technologies for restoration and regeneration, and new chair side tests are on the horizon to predict oral and systemic diseases, supporting dentists’ roles as essential primary health care providers.

The OHSU School of Dentistry needs to be more than ready for these changes in dentistry. We must try to predict trends and be at the forefront of change to better train our dental students for “practicing in the now.” Preparing for change and providing new kinds of dental training -- not only for pre-doctoral students and residents, but for our alumni – will require even stronger collaboration between the dental school and the practicing community.  

Our new dental facility in the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building on Portland’s South Waterfront will set the stage for much of this collaboration. In addition to our summer 2014 move, we are taking several additional steps to plan for our future. This month, our faculty will begin a visioning progress to think about how to position the school as a change leader. We are forging new relationships with community clinics to provide new experiences for our students to practice side-by-side with their nursing, medicine, and pharmacy colleagues. OHSU recently unveiled its interprofessional education curriculum for first-year dental, medical, nursing, nutrition, physician assistant, and radiation therapy students. And we intend to expand our research to areas that focus on oral health and further support our educational focus.

As you can see, we have a lot on our plate and I need your help! We will need to work together to help the state legislature support oral health and make Oregon the place to receive oral care and education. 

Right now, I am hoping to get to know as many of you as possible so that we can work together to shape the future of dentistry and the dental school. Because the ideas of many individuals are stronger than the ideas of one person, I welcome your thoughts. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have input on how to advance our dental education mission. I look forward to working with all of you!

Warm regards,

Phil Marucha Signature

Phillip T. Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D.
OHSU School of Dentistry Dean
(503) 494-8801