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Faculty Profile: Richard Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD

Written by Adam Zewe

For Professor Richard Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD, director of Dental Public Health at UMSOD, improving access to care for retirees has become a career-driving passion. He studies how older adults obtain dental care after they lose employment-based dental insurance.

Dr. Manski became interested in the business of dentistry while working in private practice in Massachusetts. At the time, an economic downturn forced many dentists to find creative ways to stay in business. Dr. Manski saw the importance of sound practice management, so he enrolled at the University of Massachusetts to earn an MBA. "To succeed in dental practice in these tough economic times, you have to be more astute in economics, marketing and finance," remarks Dr. Manski.

He brought his business expertise to UMSOD in 1985, as a faculty member teaching practice management courses. Dr. Manski enjoyed the opportunity to combine his clinical and business skills, while helping students become well-rounded. To succeed in private practice, dentists must make informed decisions based on the advice of professionals, like accountants and lawyers.

Dr. Manski quickly developed an interest in research, later earning a PhD in public policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He wrote his thesis on the challenges older adults face to afford dental care. Even though many retirees lack dental insurance, dental benefits are not included in Medicare. "Most public interest seems to revolve around improving access to care for children, but there really is a need among older adults," he states.

Research is a passion for Dr. Manski. He serves as a senior scholar at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, where he analyzes government data on health care expenditures. He also leads a multi-center project that studies the relationship between dental care and insurance. Dr. Manski and his collaborators seek to inform policymakers about options on how to reform public health coverage and design new private dental insurance products for retirees. The study, which began seven years ago, recently received a $1.4 million grant to continue through 2014. "What we are learning is going to help us rethink how we train dental students to meet the needs of an increasingly older population," he concludes.

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