Bulletin of Dental Education

LSUSD Celebrates 50 Years of Educating Oral Health Professionals in Louisiana

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As New Orleans celebrates its 300-year history in 2018, the Louisiana State University Health New Orleans School of Dentistry (LSUSD) also celebrates its 50th anniversary. Nearly 6,000 dental professionals have attended LSUSD since its inception in 1968, and today approximately 80% of the dental professionals in Louisiana are graduates of the school. As the only dental school in the state, its mission of education, research, patient care and service is vital to ensuring that Louisiana citizens receive the best oral health care possible.

LSUSD Charter ClassIn 1966 when Loyola School of Dentistry (1914–1971) announced a phase-out of the school, Governor John McKeithen signed a bill into law to establish the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry (LSUSD). The school opened in barracks on a 22-acre tract that originally served as World War II housing for the U.S. Navy. Dr. Edward E. Jeansonne, Dean of the Loyola School of Dentistry, was appointed the first Dean of LSUSD.

Construction of the permanent building began in 1969 and extended through 1971, at a cost of $15.75 million. First opened in January 1972, the building was dedicated on February 18. The charter class of 27 dentists graduated in June 1972. The first dental hygiene class of 30 students entered the school in September 1972 and the program in Dental Laboratory Technology began the following year. Unique among the 66 U.S. dental schools, LSUSD offers degrees in dentistry, dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology. By educating students in all aspects of dentistry, LSUSD has earned a national reputation for educating outstanding clinician-scientists. The majority of the advanced education programs began in 1972. The only clinical dental specialty program at the time in Louisiana was the oral surgery program at Charity Hospital. The department of dentistry at Charity was founded in 1897; the advanced oral and maxillofacial surgery training program was established in the late 1920s and operated under the auspices of Loyola University until it was transferred to LSUSD in 1968.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, LSUSD relocated to Baton Rouge in a temporary dental school on the LSU South Campus. In light of limited space at the new campus, 60 fourth-year dental students were placed in preceptorships in private dental offices across Louisiana. The advanced education programs also found clinic and seminar space in other locations. All other LSUSD students received classroom and clinical instruction on the LSU South Campus until August 2007, when the New Orleans Campus reopened. The facility was built in just three months with the help of the LSU main campus and donations from across the country. It was a monumental task accomplished by only a few administrators and faculty members. LSUSD returned to their New Orleans building in last summer 2007. In 2008, Henry A. Gremillion, D.D.S., MAGD, a graduate of LSUSD, was named the school’s fifth dean. Dr. Gremillion also serves as Chair-elect of the 2018-19 ADEA Board of Directors.

LSU Old and New BuildingsSince returning to New Orleans, the campus has undergone nearly $80 million in construction. The most visible transformation is the completion of the Advanced Clinical Care and Research Building. Funded entirely by FEMA, it houses the school’s clinical and basic science research facilities, a spacious and modern faculty practice, and the mechanical/electrical equipment for building operations. The other remarkable transformation is the student preclinical laboratories. The $9 million plus renovation encompasses the entire 7th floor of the E.E. Jeansonne Building. The state-of-the-art facility includes two laboratories, a classroom and a wet lab. Other projects on campus include new parking lots, professional landscaping, renovated patient waiting areas and the interprofessional clinic that serves low-income patients. 

To enhance faculty, LSUSD has recruited seasoned professionals with a broad array of skills in both general dentistry and specialty areas. One relatively new area is the diagnosis and treatment of orofacial pain. Pain in the oral and craniofacial region has a fairly high prevalence rate, and often has a devastating impact on quality of life. Therefore, Dr. Gremillion’s vision is to create a center of excellence where patients who suffer from chronic facial and neck pain can receive quality care at an affordable cost. Equally important, LSUSD students and residents, as well as practicing dentists worldwide, are being afforded the opportunity to gain knowledge and clinical experiences in the treatment of orofacial pain. Plans are also underway to establish a master’s program in the field. 

LSUSD has also made great strides in interprofessional education (IPE). The LSU Health IPE program has grown from one elective in 2012 to a new two-year experience for all first- and second-year students. LSUSD received the ADEAGies Foundation William J. Gies Award for Vision, Innovation and Achievement in recognition of its successful programs in IPE and collaborative practice.

Today students, residents and faculty provide care in 10 locations statewide with an annual average of 100,000 patient visits. Each year, the school participates in community outreach events to reach the underserved and impoverished in Louisiana. Dental screenings, sealant placement, oral health education and direct care are among the services offered.

Courtesy of Joanne Courville, M.P.A., Director, Advancement and Alumni Relations, LSUSD

Publishedon June 13, 2018

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