D.D.S. alumni help School of Dentistry go digital

In addition to their senior cash gift of about $10,000, members of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry’s Class of 2008 pledged $125,000 to help digitize radiography practices in the school. A total of 62 students pledged $2,008 each to be paid over five years.

Alumnus Dr. David Turok (D.D.S.’08), who spearheaded the effort and now practices general and implant dentistry at A Center for Dental Implants in Chicago, says his classmates wanted to leave a legacy and considered radiology to be one of the biggest roadblocks to efficiency in the school’s dental clinics.

“Waiting for an X-ray took up most of our clinic time, leaving students and patients with a lot of wasted time during appointments,” Turok said. “We decided as a group that the biggest need for improvement was to go digital.”

Now that generosity is paying off with the multiyear implementation of digital radiography in the school.

Last spring, the School of Dentistry installed additional X-ray tube heads in the Lyons Clinic, Wood Clinic and Douglas Clinic. By fall 2009, all radiography in the School of Dentistry became digital. Students and faculty can instantly view images of a patient’s mouth — chairside on a computer monitor — instead of waiting for film to be developed. With the addition of the AxiUm electronic dental record system, these images automatically become part of the patient record and are filed in the clinic management system used to administer patient charting and scheduling.

Dr. Jim Burns (D.D.S. ’72; Ph.D. ’80), associate dean for clinical education for the School of Dentistry, said that working with digital radiographic techniques greatly decreases the amount of time necessary to create a diagnostic image and eliminates developing time for conventional film. Being able to provide digital radiography services fosters patient-centered care and provides a better educational experience to D.D.S. and dental hygiene students.

“Philanthropy acted as an accelerator to this worthwhile dream,” Burns said. “The vision of going paperless with an electronic dental record within the School of Dentistry could only have happened with the incorporation of digital radiography. This gift greatly assisted.”

Turok is thrilled that he and his classmates were able to help those students following in their footsteps. “I consider it $2,008 well spent,” he said.

The School of Dentistry agrees.

“In their new role as practicing dentists, the Class of 2008 set the bar high for all alumni, and with their pledge, they vowed to make the school a better experience for patients and students who followed them,” said Jim Doyle, director of alumni engagement for the School of Dentistry. “The foresight, professionalism and generosity of the D.D.S. Class of 2008 will make the school a better place for tomorrow’s students and patients.”

To make a gift to the School of Dentistry, contact Jim Doyle, director of alumni engagement, at (804) 828-1138 or pjdoyle@vcu.edu.