Innovator: Charles "Bud" Conklin, DDS
Positions: Chief, Dentistry, Carilion Clinic | Associate Professor and Thread Director, Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine
VHIN: Carilion is one of the first medical schools in the nation to include a case-based oral health curriculum component in its medical school. What was the impetus for the focus on oral health?
CC: Most successful ventures start with vision and collaboration. That certainly was the case for the Oral Health / Oral Medicine curriculum at VT-Carilion School of Medicine. An early encounter with Dr. Cynda Johnson, founding dean, and her desire to develop a medical school curriculum that was case-based and different than the traditional medical school model, gave us an opportunity to incorporate a very comprehensive oral health/oral medicine curriculum into the medical school. Dr. Johnson’s belief in the value of putting the mouth back into medical education, gave the curriculum a top down approach and priority. So our “stars were aligned”, there was opportunity, there were medical and dental oral health champions, and a very generous endowment from Delta Dental of Virginia provided the support we needed for development, implementation and sustainability.
I do not think any of us envisioned the rapid success we have experienced. The curriculum has received national and international recognition with enquires as far away as Australia and throughout the United States. It truly has been quite rewarding.