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Donald Jarnigan
Dean, Arizona College of Optometry
Donald Jarnigan, O.D., is the Dean of Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) at Midwestern University's Glendale (AZ) Campus.

"I feel very strongly that our job is to train the next generation," he said. "It's our job to educate future practitioners so they can one day stand on our shoulders and take it further - to do more, to be more integral to the overall health of patients, and provide services that aren't yet available to us as clinicians."

Vision for a New College

Dr. Licari, Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois (CDMI), and a team of dedicated professional are putting those thoughts into action as they prepare for the opening of the new college of dental medicine which will welcome its first class of 125 students in fall 2011. Students in the program will benefit from an integrated dental education that prepares them for the future of healthcare.

"From the first day students walk in, we are going to simulate what it's really like to treat patients," Dr. Licari said. "We are going to use case scenarios throughout the curriculum, and students are going to look very carefully at not just the techniques of dentistry, but how to put that knowledge into context of what general dentists are currently doing in practice."

Focus on Healthcare

Students will also benefit from attending a college of dental medicine on a campus entirely focused on healthcare. An integrated basic science curriculum, a new state-of-the-art simulation laboratory, a new multi-million dollar classroom building, and a new clinical site will be just some of the benefits for students as they earn their Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree. The aim is to prepare students with a comprehensive education that will allow them to grow in their future practices. "We know that we can't predict the future, so our goal will be to train practitioners who are able to take new information and understand it, process it, and transform it to meet the needs of their patients," Dr. Licari said.

From the first day students walk in, we are going to simulate what it's really like to treat patients."
— Frank W. Licari, D.D.S., M.P.H., M.B.A., Downers Grove

Dr. Licari is a licensed dentist as well as a veteran academic administrator having worked with other schools of dental medicine and the American Dental Association. He was drawn to dental medicine as a career because of his interactions with his own pediatric dentist as well as a desire to make a difference in the health of others. "I think dentistry has a lot to offer in terms of a profession," he said. "Practicing is very rewarding because you can make a major impact on an individual's life. You can help someone really turn their smile around, and you see very directly the positive effect you can have."

Ready for the Future

As he works to put the final touches on the new curriculum and begins the process of recruiting faculty members, Dr. Licari is excited about the future of the new college. "This is a tremendous opportunity to start a new dental medicine program," Dr. Licari said. "Our opportunity here is to educate students so they can be prepared for the future of dental practice which will continue for another 30 to 40 years after they graduate."

Licari, D.D.S., M.P.H., M.B.A.Frank W. Licari, D.D.S., M.P.H., M.B.A., is a Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois on the Downers Grove Campus of Midwestern University. He practiced dentistry in Riverside, Illinois for 11 years. In 2010, Dr. Licari contributed a chapter to the book, Dental Practice: Get in the Game.

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