FAMU Press Release:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Board of Trustees approved to submit a request to the Florida Board of Governors to amend the State University System Legislative Budget Request seeking $1.5 million in planning funds for the FAMU College of Dental Medicine.
The proposed FAMU College of Dental Medicine is intended to serve the needs of Florida’s under served rural and inner-city residents.
“There is a tremendous need, yet very little access to oral health care,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “FAMU not only recognizes, but intends to address this need. By allowing FAMU to train students in the College of Dental Medicine, we plan to come to the aid of those communities in need.”
According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH) Division of Medical Quality Insurance, oral health care in Florida remains one of the most prevalent unmet health needs. Disparities in oral health status exist for low-income populations, racial and ethnic minority groups and disabled populations.
The DOH also reported that Florida ranks 29th in the nation in dentists per capita, with 49.4 dentist per 100,000 people. This is worse in rural areas, since many do not have adequate access to a licensed dentist. In fact, 90 percent of dentists in Florida are in private practice and 10 percent of dentists in Florida participate in Medicaid. There is one dentist, per 9,747 Medicaid-eligible children and one dentist per 41,039 Medicaid-eligible adults.
If funding is approved for the College of Dental Medicine, this would be the first dental school established at a historically black college or university since 1886.
Cynthia Hughes-Harris, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said, if approved, FAMU would also develop a undergraduate degree track that would feed students directly into the College of Dental Medicine.
“The proposal of the College of Dental Medicine further solidifies FAMU’s commitment to health care disparities locally and across the nation,” she said. “Access to oral health is scare, and a dental school is essential if we are truly committed to providing for the community.”
The proposed dental school would also develop residency programs that would encourage continued service to the under served populations.
The requested $1.5 million includes funds for consultant fees, travel and other operational costs.