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Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Announces Plans for Dental School

ERIE, Pennsylvania – The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has announced plans to open a dental school with the help of a $1 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The process to develop a school of dental medicine began with a vote by Erie City Council in support of the state grant.

LECOM has identified a critical need to attract more dentists to Erie and Pennsylvania. According to public health records, more than 46,000 Erie County residents go without dental care and the Commonwealth fails at meeting the dental health needs of children. The College has determined that dental medicine plays an important role in the team approach to better health care involving physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

Building a dental school in Erie would create 86 professional, administrative and staff jobs not previously existing in the local economy. It will attract 100 students per class year to the community and involve construction of new, high-tech educational facilities to accommodate these students.

The College will invest between $37 million and $47 million to plan and construct the dental school on the main campus. This will result in new construction jobs over 18 to 24 months.

In 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released the Pulse of Pennsylvania's Dentist and Dental Hygiene Workforce indicated that the development of the infrastructure to educate and train new dentists should be a Commonwealth priority. With the backing of the City of Erie, Erie County and the Commonwealth through the office of Senator Jane Earll, LECOM will open the state's fourth dental school to meet this priority.

There is a significant shortage of dentists in Pennsylvania and Erie County has been designated a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (DPHSA) with a documented need for more dentists. Only eight states have a higher need for dentists than Pennsylvania according to public health data.

When it comes to addressing the dental health of children, the state received an “F” from the Pew Center on the States study entitled “The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children.”The demand for new dentists is growing as the current workforce ages. Nearly two out of three Erie County dentists are over 50.

LECOM projects the opening of the school with the first dental students matriculating in 2015. The College also has begun the planning for a dental school to serve the State of Florida from LECOM's Bradenton campus, which will open in 2012. Both locations will employ a community-based clinical plan, which will allow dental students to provide dental care in smaller dental clinics in off-campus neighborhoods where the need for care is the greatest. Unique among dental schools, LECOM will utilize the Problem-based, patient-case based educational curriculum that has been successful preparing osteopathic physicians in Erie, Bradenton, and the newest campus, LECOM at Seton Hill.

About the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. Prepare yourself for medicine as your life's profession.

SOURCE: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

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