High up on the 11th floor of a high-rise office tower in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Dawson Academy conducted its world-renowned work of offering continuing education to dental clinicians – a mission it has carried out since 1979 when it was founded by Dr. Peter Dawson. However, the Academy’s office didn’t reflect the level of excellence it is known for.
The building was aging, accessibility was poor, parking was an issue, and there was zero visibility on the street.
The Dawson Academy faculty Dr. Glenn DuPont and Dr. DeWitt Wilkerson III, and Dr. Ron Kobernick also shared the 11th floor, and worked closely with one another. Together, they came to a conclusion – it was time to move to a new location – one that could be renovated and designed from the ground up to accommodate their independent practices, allow them to share equipment and resources, enhance the teaching environment, and foster close interaction between the doctors, the Dawson Academy, and the students.
Joan Forrest, President and CEO of the Dawson Academy, explained: “Our Academy is unique in that all of our faculty members maintain full-time practices, providing relevancy and reality to our teaching. Being collocated with these three outstanding clinicians and their state-of-the-art practices creates an exceptional learning environment. Our students enjoy being able to see and experience the working dental practices of our faculty during their course time.”
Henry Schein Design Team Tackles Unique Project
Pat Tarrant, Henry Schein Equipment Sales and New Practice Consultant, became involved in the process early on. “I had a working relationship with Drs. DuPont, Wilkerson and Kobernick, as well as with Joan, and they reached out to me. I partnered with them and as we started looking for new locations, I began to share and envision their dream.”
After a year of scouting potential property, they purchased a building on a highly visible corner in downtown St. Petersburg, and the renovations began. Henry Schein’s national design team, led by Jennifer Rhode, was tasked with a unique challenge – to create efficient spaces that worked for each individual practice, while also designing an overall flow that allowed the doctors and the Dawson Academy to share common spaces, such as the lab, X-ray equipment, mechanical room and staff lounge. And to do it with an eye for creating a beautiful, modern ambiance that was cohesive from one part of the building to the other.
New Building Connects Clinical Teaching to Patient Care
Today, the new building is a shining example of smart design, excellence in patient care and technology, and a warm, inviting environment that puts both patients and Academy students at ease. With a soaring entryway that leads to the various suites, it is striking, but also welcoming.
“We took the interior of the classic building we purchased down to the bare floors and walls, designed our individual areas, and built out conjointly,” said Dr. Kobernick, whose practice specializes in periodontology, implantology, and adult orthodontics.
Between the two practices, there are 12 operatories, outfitted with equipment from Midmark and Pelton & Crane. Overhead monitors provide entertainment to patients, and display digital images captured with DEXIS sensors. Both practices are paperless and utilize Dentrix practice management software and Henry Schein’s eServices to maintain their networks. Each office has its own consultation rooms and spacious sterilization areas, which maintain privacy for the patients and a smooth workflow for the staff.
The practices are designed to be open to one another and to the common areas they share, allowing collaboration between doctors and with patients. A central stairwell allows easy passage back and forth between the Academy and the practices, too.
The second floor houses the Dawson Academy’s corporate office and a large classroom equipped with televisions that broadcast live from the downstairs operatories, letting students observe surgeries and other procedures in real time.
Collaboration Pays Dividends
Dr. Peter Dawson notes the value of this collaboration: “The true powers of the technologies that continue to impact dentistry can only be realized when integrated with a foundation of sound clinical principles.”
This unique partnership between the Dawson Academy and Drs. DuPont, Wilkerson and Kobernick is already paying dividends. Greater visibility coupled with an impressive office atmosphere has contributed to increased production for both practices. Dr. Kobernick is adding 8–10 new patients each week, and production in Dr. DuPont and Dr. Wilkerson’s office is up 50% over the previous year! It also allows Academy students and faculty to interact in a facility that’s been intentionally designed for this very purpose.
But the greatest benefit may be for the clinicians and the staff that love coming to work in a fresh new environment that captures the superior care and level of commitment they have to extraordinary dental care. Henry Schein began partnering with the Dawson Academy in 2007, and was privileged to be part of this project.
The Dawson Academy faculty is composed of 20 practicing dental professionals, all working in full-time clinical practice in addition to their teaching duties. In 2012, 43 classes were taught in the United States alone, serving almost 2,000 dentists and dental team members.