GHSU College of Dental Medicine Dean to assume new role
Dr. Connie L. Drisko, Dean and Merritt Professor of the College of Dental Medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University, who oversaw an era of unprecedented growth at the state’s only dental school, has announced that she will leave her leadership role as dean effective July 1, 2013. She will remain on the college’s faculty.
“Dean Drisko has led the College of Dental Medicine through an extraordinary period,” said GHSU Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Gretchen Caughman. “Her skill and tenacity during a time of major curricula reform, increased class sizes, residency program growth, expanded local, state and international outreach, and a new state-of-art facility will be felt for decades to come. We are truly appreciative of her dedication, service and outstanding contributions.”
Drisko became the college’s third dean in 2003. During her tenure, student enrollment has grown from 60 to 80 per class and residencies have increased from 34 to 47. By 2016, the college is expected to house 400 students, 78 residents and more than 100 faculty.
To accommodate such growth, Drisko directed the funding, design and construction of a $112 million, 5-story, 269,000-square-foot clinical facility, one of the largest of its kind in the country. Opened in 2011, the building houses 316 clinical operatories, the college’s eight residency programs, clinics for junior and senior dental students, simulation labs, an expanded faculty practice, the College of Allied Health Sciences’ dental hygiene program and an operating room and recovery unit for outpatient surgery.
Drisko also transitioned the college’s curriculum to a coordinated Comprehensive Care model representative of dentistry in private practice, leading to better clinical training for students and better continuity of care from the patient’s perspective.
Under Drisko’s leadership, the college has twice received full accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association and has been nationally recognized for student diversity programs that prepare under-represented minority and low-income students for dental practice. GHSU students consistently maintain exemplary National Board scores and retention, on-time graduation and licensure exam pass rates.
In recent years, the College has established an Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency program; opened an interdisciplinary Center for Esthetic and Implant Dentistry; expanded its global outreach to China, Peru, France, Italy and Africa; extended student rotations and patient care regional outreach to 25 sites in 14 Georgia cities; and increased average annual faculty and student research by more than 40 percent.
Prior to joining GHSU, Drisko was Associate Dean for Research, Associate Dean for Academic Planning and Faculty Development and Director of the Dental Education and Research Center at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in Louisville, Ky. She had previously served as Associate Professor of Periodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as a Clinical Dental Hygiene Instructor at Tyler Junior College in Texas and at the University of Oklahoma.
Drisko was a practicing dental hygienist for 16 years before earning a dental degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1980. She received her certification in general practice dentistry from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., then a periodontics certificate from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kan. She is a member of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon honor society.
She has chaired the American Dental Education Association Women’s Advisory and Legislative Advisory committees, is a longtime member of the Dean’s Council and the Gies Board of Trustees and is faculty for the organization’s Leadership Institute.
Drisko is a member of the American Dental Association’s Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations and the Georgia Society of Periodontists Executive Committee; a Diplomate and former Director and Chair of the American Board of Periodontology; and a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the Executive Leadership Academic Medicine program.
She serves on the Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA Board of Directors and received the 2011 Woman of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia.
Affiliation between GHSU and University Hospital starts July 1
A strengthened academic affiliation between Georgia Health Sciences University and University Hospital that becomes effective Sunday has 32 medical residents doing a portion of their training at University Hospital this year, a figure that will double by 2014.
“We are exceedingly pleased with the progress and passion for this affiliation that significantly expands the training of GHS Health System residents at University Hospital,” said Dr. Ricardo Azziz, GHSU President and CEO of GHS Health System. “The leadership, physicians and staff at University Hospital already are incredible partners; our residents and graduate education leadership are excited; and our alumni are happy that University Hospital, where many of them received exceptional clinical training, is once again our partner.”
“University Hospital is very proud to be a partner in this initiative with GHSU, especially as this country faces an expected physician shortage over the next decade,” said James R. Davis, President and CEO of University Health Care System. “By providing this training opportunity to these young physicians, we hope to encourage them to put down roots here, helping take care of our community for years to come. This is good for GHSU, good for University Hospital and good for the community.”
University officials said the relationship will enhance the quality of medical resident education, lay the groundwork for more medical students to complete clinical rotations at University and eventually enable the education of more physicians in a state that ranks 41st in both the number of active physicians and residents/fellows per 100,000 population, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Residents at GHS Health System also do a portion of their training at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Dr. William Farr, University’s Chief Medical Officer, noted the first round of residents will have the opportunity to work with some of University’s leading physicians in a variety of specialties. “We will have one internal medicine resident with the hospitalist service, two OB/GYN residents and two surgery residents on one- to two-month rotations throughout the year,” he said. “They will be working with our physicians, who will serve as their attending on the various services and who have clinical faculty appointments at the Medical College of Georgia.”
This is a timely and important strategy for many reasons,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, Dean of the Medical College of Georgia at GHSU. “This is great for the hospitals, it’s great for the residents and it’s great for Georgia. It’s also a bit like back to the future because what we aspire to is the kind of heart and soul relationship that existed in prior generations that many of our alumni grew up on.”
GHSU and University Hospital announced in June 2011 their intention to strengthen their academic affiliation and in September signed the five-year agreement that becomes effective July 1. University Hospital, a 581-bed community not-for-profit hospital in Augusta, served as GHSU’s primary teaching hospital from the university’s founding in 1828 until GHSU opened its own hospital in 1956. Most recently only a handful of medical students and residents have received clinical experience at University Hospital.
The approximately 32 residents who will complete part of their training at University Hospital this year includes 12 internal medicine residents, eight obstetrics and gynecology residents and 12 general surgery residents.
Buckley commended Azziz and Davis for being “real leaders” in reaching out to each other to make the affiliation possible. He also cited the efforts of:
- Farr, who received the MCG Community Advocate Award from Buckley in May
- Dr. Barry J. Jenkins, a general surgeon and colorectal surgeon who completed his surgical training at GHS Health System, has served as Director of Surgical Training for several years and now assumes the oversight role of Director of Education at University Hospital
- Dr. Walter L Moore, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and VA Affairs at MCG.
GHS Health System is gradually increasing the number of residents it trains in general surgery, is initiating hospitalist training at University Hospital with internal medicine residents and is looking to expand other programs, Moore said. He noted that nationally and in Georgia in recent years, residency programs have experienced less than 25 percent of the growth that has occurred in medical school class sizes.
Moore and Buckley said increases in both class size and resident education are essential to meeting the physician needs of a state – and nation – that are growing and aging. Even Augusta, with its plethora of health care facilities, needs more primary care doctors, Moore said.
“Our population is growing and aging and the number of individuals going into primary care is shrinking,” Moore said. “This affiliation permits the university and the community to join arms to provide the physicians for the future, not only for our community, but for the state and nation.”
GHSU also is working to expand resident numbers in Georgia by assisting Georgia hospitals interested in starting residency training programs with state funds advanced this year by Gov. Nathan Deal and approved by the Georgia Legislature. Buckley also is a member of an AAMC Council of Deans Work Group looking for novel funding alternatives for residency programs across the nation.
GHSU offers free summer camp for children with asthma
Georgia Health Sciences University is sponsoring a free camp for children with asthma July 23-27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Camp Tanglewood in Columbia County.
Kids age 6-13 are invited to EZ Breathy Island for a week of carefree fun at the inaugural Augusta Area Asthma Day Camp. The beach-themed program includes games, sports, arts and crafts, swimming and hiking while campers cavort with pirates, enjoy a luau and more. Space is limited. Lunch and snacks are provided. Transportation from the GHSU campus will be provided on a space-available basis.
“We’ll have all the normal camp activities, plus one hour of daily asthma education to help the children know what to look for and how to recognize asthma symptoms,” said Kitty Hernlen, Assistant Professor of Respiratory Therapy, who researches asthma management and education.
Volunteer camp counselors include 23 GHSU respiratory therapy students, College of Allied Health Sciences faculty members, Richmond County school nurses, private physicians and Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center respiratory therapists, as well as volunteers from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Asthma Management Program and the CSRA Asthma Awareness Coalition.
A 2011 survey indicates 21 percent of middle school students have asthma, the leading cause of school absences among children with chronic diseases. In an average class of 30 students, three may have asthma, and the condition is often undiagnosed.
If symptoms are uncontrolled, students with asthma may lose sleep, avoid physical activity, sidestep medication and feel embarrassed, frustrated or isolated.
“We designed the Augusta Area Asthma Day Camp to provide a safe environment for kids with asthma to play and learn about their condition,” Hernlen said. “All they have to bring is their bathing suit and a towel.”
This year’s camp is funded by a $27,000 grant from the W.G. Raoul Foundation.
For more information, contact Hernlen at 706-721-3554 or email@example.com.