Faculty: Dr. Mark Moss | Beaufort County Now | Growing up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Dr. Mark Moss listened to the advice of his parents, who told him of the importance of education to his future.

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Faculty: Dr. Mark Moss

Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Ken Buday.

Photos: Rhett Butler

    Growing up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Dr. Mark Moss listened to the advice of his parents, who told him of the importance of education to his future.

    The associate professor in the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine decided on dentistry without a full realization of its importance.

    "My focus when I chose dentistry was on making enough money to have a comfortable living. I soon realized that that is not a very good basis for career decisions," Moss said. "Once my understanding (grew) of the way oral health fits within the wider framework of health care, I became very interested in learning as much as I could to better understand why some people do not have access to oral health care."

    Moss landed at ECU four years ago, drawn to the mission of the School of Dental Medicine.

    "The whole premise of the school is to address underserved communities in North Carolina," he said. "The mission of the School of Dental Medicine is what drew my curiosity about this place, but the people that work here and the students that we serve make it a dynamic setting for teaching and learning. To me, that is what a university is all about — community engagement with a focus on scholarship and health improvement.

    "I consider it a true privilege to work alongside the future leaders of dentistry in North Carolina. I also am a learner in this adventure. The gap between public health and clinical practice is wide, and there is a need to find ways to bridge the gap for our underserved and disadvantaged populations. The ECU School of Dental Medicine is uniquely positioned to address this gap, and I have the honor of helping out in the workforce deployment process for oral health — to execute the vision and mission of the ECU School of Dental Medicine."

Dr. Mark Moss believes in the School of Dental Medicine’s mission to address the needs of underserved communities and to train the future leaders of dentistry.
    Moss said he bases his research and teaching on six core tenets: invitation in that meaningful learning occurs through choice, not mandate; possibility to envision the future and challenge the status quo; ownership to recognize his role and to encourage others to recognize their roles; dissent, meaning to embrace doubts and reservations about change; commitment to a larger purpose and foster commitment in others; and gifts or assets that can be used to make the best contributions.

    "The key impact of my teaching should be measured by this: Am I offering students a framework that helps to identify questions and strategies that challenge the status quo?" Moss said.

    Moss said he teaches to help others move forward to solve today's problems.

    "Disparities in oral health are complex and simple solutions do not come easy," he said. "By teaching, I can help others to become engaged with the work of addressing oral health disparities."

    With Drs. Mike Webb and Dave MacPherson leading the way, Moss is among a team at the dental school to receive a $3.1 million Health Resources and Services Administration grant designed to improve resident training for care of pediatric and elderly patients, those with mobility issues and other complex health problems, and those with mental, emotional and behavioral challenges. The goals include assessing and treating the needs of vulnerable populations, expanding pediatric dentistry training to a rural location, and developing tools and training for population health management.

    "This grant will allow the School of Dental Medicine to expand the scope of training for dental providers at all levels so that they are better prepared not only in the technical aspects of oral health care, but also in working with community partners to provide total health care," Moss said. "One goal is to foster leadership skills in our residents so that they can extend this work beyond the time spent in the residency throughout their professional careers."

    The grant matches Moss' passion for providing dental care to those with special needs.

    "There is a high internal reward that comes from meeting people where they are in their health journey," he said. "This is very clear when we work with individuals who have intellectual or developmental disabilities."

    Moss said there is no secret to good dental care.

    "Use toothpaste with fluoride daily and avoid sugar, especially sugar sweetened beverages," he said.

    Throughout his career, Moss said he has had a very important person by his side.

    "I owe a great deal to my ally, friend and spouse of 40 years, Mary Kay Glazer," he said. "Without her companionship on this journey, my life would be very hollow."


QUICK QUIZ

    What do you like to do when not working? I like to go hiking and kayaking. Bird watching is a favorite hobby.

    Last thing I watched on TV: "Schitt's Creek"

    First job: Tree pruning in the forest

    Guilty pleasure: Sudoku

    Favorite meal: Low country shrimp boil

    One thing most people don't know about me: I am a fan of the Grateful Dead's music.
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