The School of Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio has hired Associate Professor Micaela Gibbs, DDS, MHA, as its first chief dental officer (CDO). She is one of the first — if not the first — CDOs for an academic dental practice in the U.S.
Dr. Gibbs joins UT Health San Antonio Dentistry (UT Dentistry) from the University of Florida. She served on the faculty there for 18 years, rising to associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science in 2018. Dr. Gibbs joined UT Dentistry Sept. 1.
“Very few academic dental practices in the nation — if any — have chief dental officers (CDOs),” said Peter Loomer, DDS, PhD, MRCD(C), FACD, professor and dean of the School of Dentistry.
“Dr. Gibbs has extensive experience and expertise in clinical operations, including setting up new clinics and programs in the community. She has also started several new innovative clinical care initiatives, such as in teledentistry and hospital dentistry. She has also served in many leadership roles, including department chair, and has had much success in advancing those missions,” he said.
Dr. Loomer added: “This position is unique among dental schools. In some schools, the clinical enterprise is mainly a vehicle for training dental students. In our school, we also have a strong mission to provide clinical care to improve the oral health of our community, and we have dental providers at all levels (students to expert faculty) who can provide the care that is the best fit for the patient.
“With this new step, we would like to enhance and expand our services to patients both here at our campus facility and in the outside community. Dr. Gibbs’ expertise will assist our faculty and staff to achieve these goals,” he said.
Dr. Gibbs earned a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the UC School of Dental Medicine in Denver and her Master of Health Administration degree at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.
After working in public health, private practice and on the dental school faculty of UC Denver, she joined UF in 2003 where she provided critical care in the faculty practice and taught dental students and residents in community settings. In 2006 she was appointed director of the Division of Community-Based Programs and director of global service learning while also managing large, multi-year U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration grants to educate students while providing dental care to underserved populations. In her role, she oversaw the transformation of business processes in two large, off-site residency programs and initiated programming that leveraged community and foundation partnerships to enhance patient care. Special-needs dentistry, interprofessional learning and medical-dental integration are some of her areas of special interest.
As CDO, Dr. Gibbs will help strengthen ties between the school’s clinical practices and nationally prominent research programs, including pain management and oral cancer. She will enhance relationships with UT Health San Antonio medical partners by promoting the integration of oral and systemic health systems with the goal of improving overall wellness for patients.
“UT Health San Antonio’s School of Dentistry is a premiere dental school in every area: educationally, clinically and from the research perspective,” Dr. Gibbs said.
“One of the things that drew me to this opportunity was the commitment of the leadership group and their vision for the school. It was obvious from the first time I interacted with them that they are very dynamic and progressive,” Dr. Gibbs said.
“There is a great team in place across the entire school that shares the vision of delivering outstanding, empathetic patient care. Capitalizing on the existing strength of our education programs, research enterprise and diverse clinical practice, while expanding potential community and institutional partnerships, will allow us to better serve the needs of patients,” she said. “So much of the groundwork has already been laid and I am fortunate to start my new role as many initiatives are getting ready to go to fruition. I’m excited to see how all of these different pieces come together in a real-life setting and how we can use that as a basis for future projects.”
The School of Dentistry has a long history of excellence. The school was ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report in 1993, 1995 and 1996, the last year that U.S. dental schools were ranked by this publication.