LECOM Announces Plans to Open Dental School at Bradenton Campus

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) presented plans for the LECOM School of Dental Medicine in Bradenton, Florida, during a news conference at the campus in Lakewood Ranch. For more than a year, LECOM administrators and the Board of Trustees have investigated the need to open a dental school in Florida and determined that the College can meet the educational and health care needs of the state’s citizens.

LECOM introduced the new school with remarks by Silvia M. Ferretti, D.O., Provost, Senior Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.

Robert Hirsch, D.D.S., dean of the LECOM School of Dental Medicine, chats with Richard Valachovic, D.M.D., Executive Director of the American Dental Education Association.

“LECOM recognizes that dentists have become an integral team player in improving the health of their patients,” said Dr. Ferretti. “The role they play in preventive medicine corresponds with the osteopathic principals of total health care as taught by the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the School of Pharmacy.”

At the announcement, Dr. Ferretti introduced the School’s Dean for Dental Medicine, Robert Hirsch, D.D.S.. “The College, observing the evident decline in the number of dentists in the State of Florida is responding to the needs of the Bradenton community with the establishment of this school,” said Dr. Hirsch. “The decrease in practicing dentists is most critical in underserved and low income areas where the population health is at risk.”

Reports from the Surgeon General of the United States have shown that while the understanding of tooth decay and periodontal diseases has brought about marked improvement in the oral health of many Americans, not all Americans are benefiting by the same degree. The “silent epidemic” of oral disease affects the elderly, members of various ethnic and racial groups and America’s indigent children. Those reports note that oral health impacts general health and dental health professionals play a key role in preventive health care.

The Florida Commission for Independent Education voted unanimously to give provisional approval to the Dental School at LECOM's Bradenton campus. LECOM is awaiting initial accreditation in February from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) at which time the college is expected to recruit students for the Dental School, which will be only the third in the state.

“It is the hope and expectation of the founders that the current and future needs of dental health will be served by the professionals schooled and trained at LECOM School of Dental Medicine,” commented Dr. Hirsch.

Ever cognizant of its commitment to excellence in education and purpose in community service, the LECOM School of Dental Medicine will open in Bradenton for classes in 2012. The school’s first class will enroll 100 first-year students. Within four years of its inaugural class, the School of Dental Medicine will enroll 400 students.

The architect envisions a school of dental medicine building similar to the LECOM Bradenton campus.

LECOM will invest $52 million dollars to bring the dental school to Manatee County, which includes the construction of an exceptionally planned building to house the Dental School and the highly technical, state-of-the-art classrooms required to prepare the next generation of dentists. The school will employ nearly 200 individuals, including dental faculty, administrators, dental hygienists, along with technical, administrative and other support staff. The direct impact of institutional, employee and student spending should reach around $14 million dollars in the Bradenton area, and as much as $35 million through direct and indirect spending statewide.

In addition, dental clinics staffed by faculty and students will be able to treat up to 600 patients per day providing dental health care for many who are currently underserved. Only those patients whose treatment regimen meets the educational requirements of the dental school will be accepted.

Distinguished guests at the announcement included Richard Valachovic, D.M.D, Executive Director of the American Dental Education Association and Eric Basinger, executive director of the Manatee Economic Development Council, a division of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Basinger announced a commitment of $174,000 for the creation of new jobs by the dental school. In addition, Manatee County Commissioners have reduced transportation impact fees by $29,500 to spur development of the dental school.


LECOM is still in the process of obtaining necessary approval from Pennsylvania Department of Education for this degree program and the College has applied to the Middles States Commission on Accreditation for a substantive change.

The Florida Commission for Independent Education has awarded provisional approval to the Dental School at LECOM's Bradenton campus.

The dental education program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of “initial accreditation”. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is: http://www.ada.org/100.aspx.

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.

January 21, 2011
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