As Wisconsin’s only dental school, the Marquette University School of Dentistry has a responsibility and a long-standing commitment to educating the state’s future dentists and promoting oral health statewide. This project will allow MUSoD to expand its clinic space and accommodate more students, all of which means the dental school is able to provide more clinical services to underserved patients at its three Milwaukee sites and three rural clinic partnerships around the state.
According to a recent Wisconsin Dental Association workforce study, 52 percent of Wisconsin’s professionally active dentists are between the ages of 50 and 64. As the state’s partner in dental education since 1973, MUSoD believes it is in the best interest of the state of Wisconsin to be proactive in addressing the long-term dental workforce demands.
The expansion also will include equipment upgrades that will enable the school to respond to technological advances and rapidly expanding knowledge the profession demands.
Expanded clinical and research space will help MUSoD attract and retain world-class faculty.
Though we are committed to addressing dental access and workforce issues, MUSoD is at capacity and cannot simply enlarge its class size for two reasons: the size of the simulation lab and the limitations imposed by a lack of clinic space functions in the current facility.
There are 80 simulation stations located in the lower level of the existing facility. Even a student or two more who is making up a semester for occurrences such as a medical leave creates a significant disruption in the learning environment.
Further, there are no facilities elsewhere on Marquette's campus that could accommodate the School of Dentistry’s needs. An expansion is the most feasible and cost-effective way to meet demands.
The School of Dentistry is truly the state’s dental school. As of January 2010, approximately 61 percent of dentists practicing in Wisconsin were MUSoD alumni. Marquette dental clinics serve nearly 25,000 total patients in 64 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, with approximately 91,000 patient visits each year. Further, MUSoD is one of the state’s largest dental Medicaid providers, serving more than 7,000 Medicaid patients annually. And nearly half of all patients served at MUSoD clinics are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The state of Wisconsin has supported MUSoD since 1973 through in-state tuition subsidies and clinical operations support. And in the 1999–2001 state budget, the state — through the Building Commission — provided 50 percent of the funds to build the new dental school facility.
The expansion of the current dental school facility is a top priority for the School of Dentistry. MUSoD is confident that it has the capacity to raise $8 million in matching funds from alumni, other donors, corporations and foundations. We plan to ask the federal government for funds in support of this project but only for equipment and not actual bricks and mortar (as was the case in the current facility).
This same study reveals that 52 percent of Wisconsin’s professionally active dentists are between the ages of 50 and 64, and these numbers correlate with the time period in which MUSoD and other dental schools across the country had significantly larger class sizes. As such, MUSoD believes it is in the best interest of the state to be proactive in addressing the long-term dental workforce demands. Under an expanded class size, it is likely that the first class of 100 would not graduate from MUSoD until 2017 or 2018.
Further, MUSoD continues to play a role as one of the state’s largest Medicaid providers and would be able to provide additional oral health care services if given the opportunity to build capacity. MUSoD has the dual purpose of providing direct oral health care services to Wisconsin citizens today and preparing the dental workforce to provide such services in the future.