From his earliest days of teaching (while still a graduate student), Dr. Frank W. Licari thought about change in dental education. He was struck by the inability of students in the dental clinic to access and apply information he knew they had covered in their classes. He thought there had to be a better way, and he believed he had already found it in the graduate courses he was taking. These required students to read and prepare on their own. The faculty asked questions and provided guidance, but education was essentially student driven.
Fast forward 14 years. After time spent on the faculty at Marquette University and at the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), Dr. Licari returned to his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), as Associate Dean for Patient Care and Clinical Education. In this new role, he felt well prepared and positioned to take on the work of transforming dental education.
"During my travels with CODA, I visited half the dental schools in the United States and Canada. I had seen what could be done, and I was ready to apply those principles at UIC."
In September 2002, UIC implemented a comprehensive patient care model, adopted a leased instrument system, and instituted electronic patient records. These bold changes were only the beginning. When Dr. Licari became Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 2003, he established a faculty committee and charged it with developing a new curriculum. As this committee generated ideas, he identified change agents on the faculty, provided them with opportunities to implement their ideas, and created a safe environment that encouraged innovation.
Dr. Licari discusses the importance of faculty development in supporting curriculum change in his JDE white paper, "Faculty Development to Support Curriculum Change and Ensure the Future Vitality of Dental Education." He and other UIC faculty will share some of their innovations at ADEA meetings later in the year, and we hope to touch upon their work in a future ADEA CCI Liaison Ledger. For now, suffice it to say that under Dr. Licari's leadership, UIC is providing fertile ground for a host of new initiatives. Underlying many of these is UIC's commitment to developing an oral health practitioner who is responsive to the total patient. As a result, UIC will replace the D.D.S. degree with a D.M.D. degree in 2011.
"We believe that dentistry is headed toward a medical rather than a surgical model of treatment," says Dr. Licari. "We want our students to be prepared for that change and for whatever else comes along in the course of 30 years of practice."