Our commitment to grow | A Message from the Dean

Together: Team Wellness logo

At this year’s annual All Faculty and Staff Retreat, I reminded us of our commitment to grow. In the  summer of 2020, as the pandemic raged, it was important to recognize that we were facing a moment of major disruption. One  definition of disruption is, “disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process.”

At that time, we had to learn how to find our path forward. The result was Recover, Restore, Grow: three artificially defined phases that we, as a school, would have to navigate.

Our recovery came early in summer of 2020 as we reengaged in patient care. In multiple discussions with faculty and students, I heard the heartbeat of our school: that we are here to improve the lives of our patients by improving their oral health. As a component of the university, sometimes we must remind others on campus that we run an educational and clinical enterprise. During our recovery phase, our ability to care for patients was limited by social distancing.

As we learned more about the virus and the ways to mitigate transmissions, we increased the number of patient visits until we ultimately restored our normal operations. We have graduated the first class disrupted by the pandemic, while two additional classes continue resilient through uncharted territory, providing patient care as the pandemic continues on. I applaud their steadfast effort to complete their education and all of the staff and faculty who made this possible.

Our next quest is to raise the bar: now we must grow. Moving forward, we must strive to provide better care. How can we reduce our appointment waiting time and provide more timely care? How can we best increase our use of digital workflows in our clinical and preclinical operations? How can we partner with our medical, pharmacy, and nursing colleagues to improve the overall health of our patients? How can we improve the patient experience while being treated in our clinics? How do we provide care for special needs patients? How do we grow to become the best UMN SOD that we can be?

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry is a great school, with great students, residents, faculty and staff. Together, we can plant the seeds that will stem our future growth. I am counting on each one of you to do one thing every day to make the school a great place for our patients.