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School of Dentistry pilots after-hours clinic



UMMC School of Dentistry. Source: UMMC

Press Release from UMMC By: Rachel Vanderford,

Photos By: Jay Ferchaud/ UMMC Communications

The University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry is piloting a new after-hours clinic in hopes of making the clinic a part of its standard operation.  

Once a month, until the conclusion of the pilot in July, the school will run a dental clinic from 5-8 p.m., to treat patients who are unable to see a dentist during typical business hours.  

During the second installment of the night clinic on March 28, dental and dental hygiene students and SOD faculty treated two acute care and three comprehensive care patients, who receive routine treatment at the school. 

“We wanted to focus on treating patients who were in pain, who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get in to see a dentist during normal clinic hours,” said Kelli Irby, project manager and executive assistant in the School of Dentistry. “A lot of people are unable to take off work for medical appointments. The goal is to help those people.” 

“I think it’s a really great provision that the School of Dentistry is offering, given the fact that I work late,” said Tonjula Shelby of Jackson. “Some individuals don’t have the time to take off work or they don’t have the staffing to. I am very grateful that UMMC decided to have the after-hours clinic so patients have the option to come in after they’ve completed their shift at work. I hope that it will be an everlasting provision that’s going to be available for patients to utilize.”

For $85, patients receive X-rays and a comprehensive exam. Treatment such as extractions, fillings, root canals and cleanings are also available. 

“If the pilot goes smoothly, we hope to implement the after-hours clinic as a permanent fixture, adding to the range of care we offer here,” said Irby. 

The idea of an after-hours clinic was the winning proposal of the school’s first Change 4 Good Transformation Challenge, where students, faculty and staff were encouraged to form teams to come up with an idea to improve the patient and care team experience.  

Of the three finalists chosen, the winning group presented a plan to extend the School of Dentistry’s normal clinic hours to 8 p.m. for patients who are unable to make an appointment during the workday. The team, comprised of Irby; Dr. Scott Phillips, associate dean for clinical affairs; Courtney Brisby, business administrator; and Dr. Hunter Horton, a fourth-year dental student at the time, gave a 10-minute proposal to a panel of judges, made up of UMMC faculty. 

“The idea behind the Change4Good Challenge is to give everyone in our school the chance to change it so that we can take care of our patients and take better care of each other,” said Dr. Sreenivas Koka, SOD dean.  

The winning team was awarded $3,000, donated by alumna Dr. Katie Curtis. 

“When Dr. Sree first contacted me with this opportunity, I immediately knew that I wanted to be involved,” said Curtis. “As a somewhat recent graduate, I can vividly remember my classmates and I thinking of so many ways we thought we could change the school for the better. But most of my ideas were embarrassingly selfish. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the submissions, and each one was directly centered around improving the patient experience.  

“The winning group displayed selflessness,” she said. “They wanted to work in the clinic after hours and give even more of themselves to the school to accommodate their patients’ schedules. I am excited that this challenge will be a catalyst for the dental students to show leadership to improve the patient experience. I will continue to support a project with which we can challenge each other for the better in order to make the path a little smoother for the people that will follow us.” Dental hygiene students, from left, Katherine Dumas, Mary Jordan Milton and Blakeney Burney discuss a patient’s care during the meeting before the after-hours dental clinic opens.

The pilot program’s structure offers a unique learning opportunity for students. The dental and dental hygiene students providing care are divided into teams of two, supported by a faculty advisor and dental assistants. Beginning each encounter with a 10-minute conversation helps students become familiar with treating patients comprehensively, considering factors beyond what they observe in the clinic. 

After each clinic, students gather feedback through a patient exit survey and reconvene to discuss potential adjustments for the next session, allowing them to navigate the business side of practice. 

The trial run also offers a chance to test new technologies aimed at improving the patient experience. One such technology is an artificial intelligence assistant that logs patient information and notes directly into their medical profile, allowing the students to spend more time face-to-face with their patients. 

The remaining four after-hours clinics will be held on April 25, May 30, June 27 and July 25. To request an appointment or for more information, call (601) 815-8441. 

To support the School of Dentistry, please contact Dr. Sheila Henderson, major gifts officer, at (601) 815-3302 or

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