Joyful! That’s the word KCU College of Dental Medicine (CDM) Founding Dean Linda Niessen, DMD, MPH, MPP, used to describe the energy on campus during Second Look Day held Friday, March 24. The first event of its kind for the CDM, Second Look Day offered accepted dental students and their families an opportunity to meet dental faculty and team members, get an overview of the curriculum, tour campus and learn more about the student experience at KCU.
KCU’s first class of dental students represent a wide range of diverse ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. Some have taken a traditional path to dental school and will begin their studies directly after earning their undergraduate degrees. Others have worked several years as dental hygienists, and some are retraining after working in other fields.
“Second Look Day was a well-orchestrated event that engaged our entire CDM team. We wanted to make sure our incoming dental students feel welcomed and excited about beginning their dental school journey at KCU,” said Niessen. “They met all our dental faculty and had the opportunity to start building relationships with their classmates and faculty before orientation even begins!”
The CDM will welcome its inaugural class of 80 students July 31 when orientation begins. Among those 80, 45 percent are from the four-state area that includes Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas, Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma. Nearly 60 percent of the students are from rural communities and aspire to establish practices and serve rural communities when they graduate.
After three years of planning the curriculum, hiring faculty, and pursuing initial accreditation since beginning her tenure at KCU, Niessen says it is an exciting time albeit a bit surreal to realize that students will arrive in a few short months. “The students are the center of all our entire team’s efforts in developing the KCU College of Dental Medicine,” she said. “Our Second Look Day demonstrated the joy that both the students and CDM team will feel as the students begin their journey to become dentists, and as graduates, ultimately improve the health of the communities they will serve. We can’t wait to have them get started!”