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A new dual degree available for the first time during the upcoming 2013-2014 school year will allow students learning how to provide dental care to also pursue business studies at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.
The business department has partnered with the university's School of Dentistry to create the double degree, D.D.S./M.B.A. The program will require dental students to complete a fifth year of classes in the business school after they complete their four years of dental studies.
Until now, the business side of a dental practice has been an on-the-job learning experience for many dentists, often by working with more veteran practitioners who can mentor them on the economic aspects of dentistry.
"This collaborative partnership offers WVU dental students a critical piece of education that most dental schools have lacked for years," said David Felton, D.D.S., dean of the dentistry school. "While we educate students to be very good clinicians, we have not equally prepared them for the 'business of dentistry.' This partnership will give our graduates a career advantage by enabling them to compete at the highest levels in the dental profession."
Better business, better dental care
Officials at WVU are hoping the business skills that will be taught in the dual problem will help dental school graduates run more efficient and successful practices when they begin their careers.
Given the cost of maintaining a practice, and the dentistry charges that are passed on to patients, many families are unable to maintain the level of dental care that's needed for good oral health. For those who have no dental insurance because they can't afford high premiums, there is an alternative. Discount dental plans can be purchased that offer many dentistry services at reduced prices.
"Students graduating from WVU's dental school will have much needed and highly demanded business knowledge when they earn this degree," said Jose Sartarelli, Ph.D., dean of the WVU College of Business and Economics.
The WVU business school has also partnered successfully with other departments on campus, including the law school, pharmacy program, medical school and a sports management program.
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