UF Health’s Year of Innovation & Impact

David R. Nelson, M.D., the senior vice president for UF Health Affairs, shared highlights of the last year for the UF Academic Health Center. If you’d like to review accomplishments across colleges and units, visit the site here.

Dear UF Health colleagues,

Last year I shared highlights from each of our health colleges and spoke of the intersection of where intent meets impact. I hope you again enjoy reading our annual highlight reel of accomplishments; 2022 was another major year of growth for all of us at UF Health. In the year ahead, we continue to look forward to celebrating your achievements and to embracing the journey we’re all on, together.

I remain in awe of the work you do related to our important missions of research, education, patient care and community service. Please visit this link to read more about the wonderful achievements of your colleagues across our health colleges in Gainesville and in Jacksonville.

David R. Nelson, M.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF & President, UF Health

First class
In December 2022, UFCD hosted a celebration marking 50 years since our college began educating dentists and dental specialists.

Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence in Dental Education, Research & Service

In 1972, the first class of 24 dental students enrolled in the newly established UF College of Dentistry, the first dental school in Florida that remains the only public dental school in the state. Our first class of graduates went on to enjoy rewarding and impactful careers in dentistry and most of those members were able to join us for our 50th Anniversary Celebration in December 2022. Today our college, along with many at UF, shines as one of the top-rated colleges in our respected professions and we are excited to prepare for our next 50 years of educating Florida’s dentists and specialists, launching new discoveries that will impact oral health care and understanding, and serving the patients of Florida.

Accepted students
UFCD faculty, staff and students welcomed a group of 50 accepted students joined by many family members.

Delivering Exceptional Educations

One measure of educational excellence for dental education is pass rates on licensure and specialty board exams. The D.M.D. Class of 2023 earned a 100% pass rate on the American Dental Association licensure exam, the Integrated National Board Dental Exam, or INBDE. The D.M.D. Class of 2023 was the first to challenge the INBDE and the 100% pass rate is due, in large part, to several years of preparation within the college for the exam change. Previously the NBDE was taken in two parts and in anticipation of the implementation of the INBDE, the college revised the curriculum with feedback from senior exit interviews and alumni surveys. We created two new clinical preparatory courses and moved clinically relevant courses earlier in the curriculum to engage students earlier in clinic.

Of the 35 UF dental residents who challenged board exams in one of nine accredited advanced dental education programs, 33 passed on their first attempt — a 94% pass rate.

The strength of our general dentistry and advanced education programs is recognized throughout the U.S. and other parts of the world. During the last application cycle, the College of Dentistry received 1,696 applications for 93 available D.M.D. positions and 1,360 applications for 65 advanced education positions: a 5% total acceptance rate.

Summer research program
The UF College of Dentistry research enterprise prioritizes helping develop the next generation of oral health researchers.

Maintaining A Top 10 Research Enterprise

According to data from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, which tracks all National Institutes of Health, or NIH, funding, the college has been in the top 10 every year since 2000, maintaining a broad research portfolio covering the entire translational spectrum, including research focused on educational structure and processes relating to D.M.D. programs.

In 2022, the college ranked 6th among all U.S. dental schools for NIH funding to academic institutions and 3rd among private institutions. Our research portfolio from other NIH institutes, the Department of Defense, HRSA, and non-federal sources, such as the American Cancer Society, Robert Wood Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive Co., the American Heart Association, Merck and other industrial sources, has expanded since the last accreditation site visit.

NCEF Pediatric Dental resident and patient
The NCEF Pediatric Dental Center adapted a waiting room and operatory aimed at putting pediatric patients who are neurodiverse at ease before and during their oral health care visits.

Reaching Patients Across Florida

Our commitment to oral health care for all Floridians continues to grow each year. The UF College of Dentistry has a presence throughout Florida via the UF Statewide Network for Community Oral Health, a combination of UF-owned dental and education centers, and affiliate partners such as county health departments, community health centers and private, not-for-profit organizations. These centers and organizations serve as community-based rotation sites for our academic programs and provide dental students and residents expanded clinical experiences with diverse patient populations. In addition to helping develop clinical competence, the rotations expose students to additional experiences with underserved populations and foster the compassion and understanding that often leads to lifelong commitment to serving medically underserved communities.

Creating partnerships between the college’s statewide dental centers and organizations with like-minded service initiatives plays a key role in serving those who need oral health attention most.  In 2022, the college’s NCEF Pediatric Dental Center in Naples, with funding from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and Henry Schein, created a new Special Needs Oral Health Promotion Center designed to create a sensory-adapted environment for children with who are neurodiverse. These patients have a separate entrance that brings them to a special waiting room with music, lights and furniture selected to calm patients and de-escalate anxiety related to dental visits. A connected dental operatory is also appointed with special instrumentation to create a quiet, friendly environment for care delivery that has already proved transformational for children and their families, and our center’s providers who are seeing these patients become more confident and cooperative, which will have a positive impact on them for the rest of their lives.

Through longstanding and new statewide partnerships, and efforts toward expanding outreach for all Floridians, including those with access-to-care challenges, our providers care for patients from all 67 counties in Florida each year.

Two dental students at the accepted dental students meeting.
Shannon Robinson, left, and Destiny Corbett, members of the D.M.D. Class of 2025, joined other dental students who welcomed accepted students and their family members to the UF campus in December 2022.

Making Progress on Inclusive Excellence

It takes time to see measurable improvements from efforts to address longstanding health disparities in our communities and support inclusive excellence. At the UF College of Dentistry, following years of sustained initiatives that include programmatic changes, listening sessions and leadership by example, we are seeing progress.

During FY2022, our college completed more than 135,000 patient visits in college-owned clinics and, through the UF Statewide Network for Community Oral Health, delivered care for patients in all 67 counties across the state, many of whom would otherwise not be able to afford dental care. Our college also has a major commitment to fostering a humanistic environment honoring the values of integrity, respect, fairness, cooperation and professionalism. One of our goals is ensuring that all of our learners are equipped with the cultural competencies that result in better outcomes for patient care through effective communication and mutual understanding. One key measure is the extent to which our students, residents and faculty are representative of the multicultural population served in Florida today — an area in which considerable progress has occurred.

For the eighth consecutive year, the college was recognized for its efforts as one of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2022 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, Awardees, a national honor recognizing U.S. health colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to inclusion.