WVU rising: dental school innovation center drives change

The dental school’s new innovation center is driving change—and numbers are rolling in to prove it. WVU’s Dr. Lauren Yura talks what’s happening behind the scenes to boost her alma mater’s national profile. 

It only recently turned two, but West Virginia University School of Dentistry’s Dr. W. Robert Biddington Center for Dental Innovation is already having a profound impact. The only clinic of its kind on the East Coast when it opened, it was one of just three nationwide in 2017 where students experience a real-world environment that operates much like a private practice and also get access to the latest technology. (Benco Dental was one of dozens of donors who helped bring it to life in partnership with the Center for Research and Education in Technology, Inc.)

West Virginia University School of Dentistry’s Dr. W. Robert Biddington Center for Dental Innovation was the only clinic of its kind on the East Coast when it opened. In 2017, it was one of just three nationwide where students experience a real-world environment that operates much like a private practice and also get access to the latest technology.

For starters, it’s a recruiting boon that’s shifting the student body’s demographics. The vast majority of dental students—about 80%—were West Virginians prior to the center’s opening. Today, about half come from out of state. With such a major shift, the school understandably felt compelled to start surveying applicants about what drew them. The results: 99% said the center was a major factor in their decisions to apply.

“Students say it’s the first time they feel like real dentists. They get to broaden themselves as clinicians through increased repetition and exposure to more materials. They also get exposed to practice management and what it means to deal with insurance, fee setting, and staff training.”

Dr. W. Robert Biddington Center for Dental Innovation Director and Assistant Professor, Dr. Lauren Yura

All of which, says Dr. Yura, is changing the way students transition. “They’re better prepared, no question. Since it’s a higher-end environment, it’s also influencing where’d they’d want to work, or what type of practice they’d create for themselves.” 

Time will tell, but as a proud WVU alum herself, Dr. Yura is clearly passionate about sending her students into the world as the best prepared graduates in the school’s history.

Dr. Lauren Yura (right) with a dental student at the Dr. W. Robert Biddington Center for Dental Innovation.

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