Kansas City University (KCU) Receives $1,478,351 Grant from HRSA

Kansas City University (KCU) recently received a grant for $1,478,351 from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support project ENRICH (Educational Navigation for Rural and Interprofessional Community Health). The project’s aim is to improve the oral health of people in vulnerable, underserved, and rural communities by graduating primary care clinicians (dentists and primary care physicians) who can deliver dental services. Project outcomes include recruiting, matriculating, and graduating primary care dentists who themselves represent populations historically underserved, and who will deliver patient-centered dental care in rural and underserved communities.

There is a clear need for dental training programs in the four-state quadrant (Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma) to help address the current and anticipated shortages. There are two dental schools outside of the College of Dental Medicine’s (CDM’s) service area, and both are most likely to attract applicants from the adjacent urban regions (i.e., Kansas City and Oklahoma City). The dental schools in Kansas City and Oklahoma are public institutions, which often have limits on numbers of students they may accept from out of state. The dental school in Kansas City is 165 miles from Joplin, the one in Oklahoma City is 218 miles from Joplin, and an additional dental school in St Louis is 330 miles from Joplin. Neither Arkansas nor Kansas has a dental school. The ENRICH program will provide a dental training program that prepares students to practice in rural settings, offering interprofessional education and clinical experiences, and emphasizing care of medically complex patients. The CDM will recruit students nationally, with an emphasis on residents from rural communities in the four-state area of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Recruiting students from rural areas, particularly in the region, will increase the likelihood that graduates will establish practices in rural communities. As students persist through the interprofessional public health education and community-based clinical experiences, they will engage with faculty coaches and other culturally competent student services and strategies to support their progress.

Through ENRICH, KCU will expedite several components of its predoctoral dental education program and strengthen existing and build new partnerships to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Offer interprofessional didactic and experiential learning through partnership with KCU osteopathic medical school (COM) and expansion of the Score 1 for Health program to include oral health screenings in the rural elementary schools in the Joplin area.
  2. Leverage existing community partnerships and create new opportunities to expand the capacity of the four-state region to provide oral health education and access to care for vulnerable, underserved, and rural communities.
  3. Provide an oral health clinical training program to prepare students to care for patients who are vulnerable, underserved, or reside in rural communities.
  4. Identify and recruit applicants to the CDM, specifically targeting those who are underrepresented minorities (URM), from rural areas and/, or those who are economically disadvantaged.
  5. Apply a coaching framework to support progress of CDM students towards graduation, including URM, rural, and economically disadvantaged students.

KCU’s population includes 324 full-time faculty and staff and almost 2,000 students. The College of Biosciences (COB) has 216 students, the COM has 1,735 students, and the CDM will enroll the first class of 80 students in July 2023. Founded in 1916, KCU is the fifth-oldest osteopathic medical school in the country and the ninth largest of all medical schools (both MD and DO) in the United States. In addition to the DO degree, KCU offers an MS in Biosciences, MS in Bioethics and a joint MPH and MBA with University of Nebraska and Rockhurst University, respectively. Training sites in urban and rural settings provide experience in various healthcare environments, with an exposure to diverse socio-cultural health determinants.