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James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine

College of Dental Medicine News

College of Dental Medicine News

Date: Nov 2012

MUSC is proud to encourage diversity in its students, faculty and staff. Two events were held at MUSC in 2012 to encourage underrepresented minority pre-dental students to consider applying to the College of Dental Medicine.

The first was called “Impressions” day which was held on June 23rd at the school. The primary goal of the Impressions Program was to expose underrepresented minority pre-dental students to a career in dentistry and familiarize them with the dental school application process.

During the day, participants had the opportunity to receive information about applying to and being a student in dental school, to have their questions answered by dental students and members of the faculty, to tour our dental clinics, and to receive hands-on experience. Hands-on activities included waxing a tooth, learning to use a handpiece, taking impressions, and pouring stone models. Forty-two pre-dental students participated. The event was sponsored by the SNDA. 

Second-year student Kenitra Betts and fourth-year student Brandon Hagan 
show students how to work with wax

The other event held was the 14th annual Dental Day and was held on November 2nd. This event provided students with information about the process of applying to dental school and what life is like as a dental student. Pre-health advisors and parents were also welcome to attend the event.

Eighty-six students registered for the attended the program and 15 schools were represented, including: Coastal Carolina, USC-Columbia, College of Charleston, Columbia University, North Carolina State University, Clemson University, Cape Fear Community College, UNC-Pembroke, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Chapel Hill, Presbyterian College, University of Alabama, Wofford College, Winthrop University, South Carolina State University, Charleston Southern and Fort Dorchester High School.

This event was sponsored by the College of Dental Medicine’s Office of Diversity.

Dr. Larry Ferguson remembers where he started.

Dr. Larry Ferguson
Before he had a bustling West Ashley dental practice, before he had a wife and four successful adult children, before he had all the professional awards -- he was Little Ferguson, a boy from Charleston’s East Side.

His pastor asked him one Sunday morning on the steps of East Side Baptist Church what he wanted to be when he grew up. Then only 12 years old, Dr. Ferguson said he wanted to be a doctor.

“Little Ferguson,” his pastor told him, “When you get to be a doctor, I want you to promise me one thing: Don’t forget the Lord.”

Ferguson never forgot those words, nor the people and places behind him. This year MUSC’s Alumni Association presented him with the Distinguished Alumnus Service Award for his work within both his profession and his community. 
Dr. Larry Ferguson

College of Dental Medicine Dean John J. Sanders calls Dr. Ferguson as “a man in perpetual motion.

“He consistently prioritizes the needs of others over his own,” Sanders said. “He is an outstanding mentor and role model. I am very fortunate to count him as a great friend.”

From his East Side upbringing, Ferguson went to The Citadel on a full academic scholarship and graduated with a chemistry degree in 1973. He went to work at General Asbestos and Rubber Corp. in North Charleston and married his high school sweetheart, Mabel, a few months later.
Ferguson’s life changed course after a conversation that began as a meeting about life insurance.

The insurance agent, a friend of Ferguson’s, asked if Ferguson liked his job. After hearing Ferguson’s lukewarm answer, the agent said that he worked with dentists during his time in the Air Force, and that many of those dentists shared Ferguson’s chemistry background.
“I think you’d make a good dentist,” he told Ferguson.

So, on that suggestion, Ferguson went to the library to read more about dentistry. Then he enrolled in biology classes at The Citadel. He applied to dental school in 1975 and started classes the next year.

Dr. Ferguson graduated from MUSC’s College of Dental Medicine in 1979 and went on to lead professional organizations at the state and national levels. He became the first black president of the S.C. Dental Association in 2006.

Dr. Ferguson began contributing to his alma mater almost immediately after graduation. He donated money and worked as a clinical instructor at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine, even while launching his first practice with a classmate.

“The least I can do is give back,” Dr. Ferguson said from his current practice in West Ashley. “The MUSC College of Dental Medicine is a true blessing to the state of South Carolina. As a graduate, I want to do all I can do to help keep these doors open.”

He and his wife, Mabel, wanted to open some new doors on the East Side, too. They joined with a nonprofit ministry to establish the Sisters of Charity free dental clinic on East Bay Street in 2004, where the Fergusons could see their old high school from the third-floor office window.
“It resonated in my heart. This is where I grew up,” Dr. Ferguson said. “Here I am in a position now to help people who are not as fortunate as I have been.”

The nonprofit ministry defaulted on its mortgage in 2008, but Dr. Ferguson’s colleague, local orthodontist Dr. Lee Hershon, reopened the building last year as the Charleston Dental Clinic. Dr. Ferguson still volunteers there.

“Larry really put the seeds in the ground first,” Hershon said. “He’s been a real leader, not only in dentistry, but in the black community.”

Hershon taught Dr. Ferguson in dental school and became friends with him as the two men transitioned into private practice. He remembered Dr. Ferguson as a focused student driven by compassion.

“He’s a very serious Christian, and he understands that God expects us to help the less fortunate,” Hershon said. “He’s always cared about people, no matter what color, just doing service for people.”

Kip Katseanes is a 2nd-year dental student (CDM Class of 2015) that has graciously provided candid answers to several key questions that many dental school applicants want to know.

Kip is a student representative on the Curriculum Committee and is well respected among the faculty and his peers.

1. Why was MUSC College of Dental Medicine the right place for you?  
MUSC was the right place for me after I interviewed here.  Based on the respectful faculty/staff and state-of-the-art facilities, all accommodations were met to provide for an outstanding education.

2. How is life as a dental student different from life as an undergraduate student?
The main difference is time.  Much more is expected and required, so time management is critical for the transition and success.  

3. What advice would you have to future applicants?
My advice would be to try and mimic the College of Dental Medicine's basic science curriculum during your undergraduate courses.  This will help with the transition and better prepare you to be a successful professional student.

4. What has been your favorite part of the pre-clinical dental curriculum?
My favorite part is practicing dental procedures in the simulation lab to better prepare myself for clinical work.  The course directors, along with the reputable facilities, are able to prepare each individual student to better our manual dexterity skills which in turn teaches us to be better clinicians.

5. How does MUSC help you get involved in the community?
MUSC offers many different ways for each student to become active in a community.  Dental mission projects are performed outside of this country on a yearly basis, part of our curriculum requires us to volunteer at a special needs school to reach out in our community, and finally dental outreach programs such as the DAD project and the ECCO clinic help us provide dental work to those less fortunate in our community.  Many more are offered and this variety of outreach programs tailor to all students background interest's to participate.

Visiting the College of Dental Medicine on Wednesday felt like stepping into a high-tech gadget store.

To celebrate Halloween for 2012, dental faculty and staff dressed as Apple Store employees. Attire included blue shirts, customized logos, and lanyard nametags. The school was also decorated with Apple Store-like posters, celebrating dental health and encouraging proper oral hygiene.

Dr. Joe Vuthiganon, Instructor in the Division of Restorative Dentistry, came up with and championed the idea. While only expecting a moderate number to participate, Dr. Vuthiganon was instead met with an overwhelming response. Over 100 CDM employees agreed to participate, including staff members, assistants, residents, professors, and even the Deans of the College.

To make sure everyone got a matching shirt, Vickie Chapman, an assistant in the Dental Faculty Practice, literally bought out the stock at A.C. Moore. Dr. Vuthiganon designed the logos for each individual’s shirt with their input to represent their personality and/or job at MUSC. To keep with the theme, these logos included the prefix ‘i’ found in many Apple product names.

Vickie distributes the shirts to faculty and staff

Dr. Sanders, Dean of the Dental school, sports the iDean logo,
while coincidentally working on an Apple Macbook.

Dr. Vuthiganon, showing off all of his hard word in front of the dental clinic.
The Dental Apple Store window posters included the ‘iDentists,’ ‘iBrush,’ ‘iFloss’ and ‘iSmile’ logos.

Dr. Gellin wearing the ‘iAxiUm’ logo. As administrator of the dental clinic
software, he is the go-to person for all things axiUm-related.

All the ‘‘Dental Apple Store’ employees that made the 2012 MUSC Dental School halloween celebration a memorable one.

Students and patients really enjoyed the 2012 Halloween event. Special thanks goes to Dr. Vuthiganon and everyone else who helped make the day a success!

Nov 2012