Tuskegee University Chosen for RCDEC Pilot Program

Jun 6, 2019 | News, Recent Events, Student News

Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine was chosen as the pilot program for the RCDEC 

Here is a picture from the first dental lab that was held on March 29, 2019.  About 55 junior students were able to participate in the 1st dental lab (probing, charting, regional block and extractions of upper 1st premolar, 1st incisor and canine tooth). They used the donated dental units with high power drills for the upper canine extractions that day.  Between mid-March and now, 7 senior students were able to use the donated units for various extractions (upper and lower canines, premolars and molars) for dental rotation or dental elective.  Some seniors said they will come back in May after graduation to try them out as well – so it is well-used for sure!

Dr. Noriko Aoi

Below are comments from the 3rd year and 4th year students (all anonymous).  

Comments from 4th year veterinary students in dental rotation and/or dental elective course
1.    I am so appreciative for the equipment we got for dentistry. This opportunity and experience will be so valuable for practice. I am really going to take advantage of the machines while I’m here to learn how to use them effectively before graduation. Thank you again!
2.    Being able to work with this tool was an amazing opportunity. The instrument is well designed with great LED light features and felt smooth while sectioning teeth. I’m very grateful to be one of the students that had the opportunity to handle this instrument, since it will improve the experience of students taking the Dentistry Elective and Rotation at school.
3.    I enjoyed working with all of our new dental equipment today. Having experience with a high power drill and being able to section multi-rooted teeth (confidently) makes me an asset to my future colleagues. Exposure to these procedures and the proper use of the tools is very valuable. I love that veterinary dentistry is becoming so popular (one of my favorite areas of vet med) and I am grateful for the opportunity to grow comfortable with the equipment before embarking on my career in general practice.
4.    I really enjoyed using the new dentistry equipment. The high speed drill/hand piece was so easy to use and felt comfortable. I loved the built in light feature too! I’ve seen similar tools used in small animal practices outside of school and feel very lucky to now have it available for use at TUCVM. This will really help prepare students for practice after graduation.
5.    I really liked the new equipment.  Everything worked easy, with no issues while using them.  Nothing felt awkward and cords were plenty long enough.



Some veterinary schools provide excellent training in dentistry, while others have severe deficiencies in this critically important part of clinical practice. Some geographic regions have a significant number of dental specialists who can provide post-graduate dental training in private education centers, and other areas have very few of these opportunities available.  

The Regional Collaborative Dental Education Center (RCDEC) evolved from a discussion at the 2017 Nashville Veterinary Dental Forum, on the best way to leverage funding and resources to create dental education opportunities. A consensus was reached that a significant population of veterinary students in the US, Canada and the Caribbean were not receiving an adequate level of education in dentistry to prepare them for their clinical responsibilities post-graduation. Identifying the schools and regions with inadequate dental education opportunities, and providing funding to create a Regional Collaborative Dental Education Center in these areas, was the action deemed appropriate.

This program was created to provide veterinary schools with inadequate dental education resources financial assistance from the FVD. This funding creates centers of learning at veterinary schools to improve dental education for their students, and for veterinary clinicians, and veterinary para-professionals, from their region. These schools are chosen from regions with a low density of dental specialists providing private dental education opportunities to minimize conflicts with these entities. By providing a “bootstrapping” grant through the FVD, these schools can rapidly improve their level of dental education for their students and maximize the impact of this dental education with career-long improvement in dental competency for each successive class of graduates. At the same time, the equipment purchased with this funding provided continuing education opportunities which also benefits local clinicians, and their staff members, to raise the bar of dental care standards in the region.  

The school provides a commitment from their administration to provide adequate student instruction time, appropriate faculty, staff and space necessary to provide the instruction. The program requires that the school will monitor the outcome of the instruction in terms of improvement in their student’s dental clinical competency. The school will develop metrics to measure the impact on students and clinicians who participate in the program. The school will be required to report to the FVD annually on the progress of their students for 5 years. The FVD will offer additional funding annually, for up to 3 years, to provide initial financial security for the nascent program.

The program is designed to be self-sustaining by creating a revenue stream from continuing education programs; utilizing the same FVD-funded equipment for educating regional clinicians and paraprofessionals. This income will be utilized to provide maintenance and new equipment purchases to sustain the student education program into the future.

Ideally participation from state and local veterinary medical associations will be encouraged to also leverage the utilization of this dental education center and to further enhance the level of dental practice in the region. Industry partners will also be encouraged to participate in these projects.

Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine was chosen as the pilot program for the RCDEC.  Dr. Ruby Perry, Dean of the Tuskegee College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Noriko Aoi, clinical dentistry instructor at Tuskegee, have been instrumental in the establishment of this pilot program.

Pending the successful initiation and monitoring of this Tuskegee RCDEC program, additional veterinary schools with similar needs in the US, Canada and the Caribbean will be recruited for participation in the future. The goal is to increase dental education opportunities throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean; raising the level of dental practice through these Regional Collaborative Dental Education Centers.

Michael Overend
Outreach Committee
Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry