As the course director for the fourth-year Dental Emergency Course, Alberto Gasparoni exemplifies the characteristic features embodied in the James H. and Hermine E. McLeran Faculty Award and the namesakes for the award—a passionate commitment to dental education focused on excellence in teaching and patient-centered care.
Gasparoni earned his international DDS degree in 1985 from the University of Siena in Italy. After operating a private practice and conducting research at the University of Siena for several years, Gasparoni earned an MS in Oral Biology from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1997. While completing his Master’s degree, Gasparoni was encouraged to apply to the PhD program in Oral Science at the University of Iowa. A staff member gave Gasparoni an Iowa tshirt for good luck, which he still has, and the rest is history. Gasparoni went on to earn a PhD in Oral Science from the University of Iowa in 2003, and he would later earn a US-accredited DDS degree from Iowa in 2010.
Since 2010, Gasparoni has been a clinical associate professor at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry serving in Dental Clinic Administration and the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine. Gasparoni is now the course director for the dental emergency course, which teaches students how to diagnose and triage one patient per hour in a fast-paced and stressful environment.
As director of the course, Gasparoni created an assessment tool, the PASS exercise, that is used to demonstrate that students in the course have entry-level competence to manage dental emergencies.
Mike Kanellis, the associate dean of clinics, says of Gasparoni, “Dr. Gasparoni is an excellent role model for our D4 students while they are in the course. They can readily see his hard work ethic, his passion for dentistry, and most of all his compassion for our dental patients regardless of their background or circumstances.”
This patient-centered approach to care is central to Gasparoni’s educational philosophy.
“Dental emergency patients are no different than any other dental patient. Having them at the center of your care means to play your dental emergency treatment keeping in mind their needs (for example, pain or infection), desires (for example, a family event coming up), and barriers (for example, finances or time),” Gasparoni explained.
While this approach is not unique to emergency care, it is certainly easy to lose sight of the particularities of each individual patient when treating many patients in quick succession.
Gasparoni’s own patient care and what he models for his students is one where even in and especially in these circumstances, “it is important to care for all your patients—to get to know them, their needs, desires, and expectations, so that you can provide the best care possible for your patient.”
Because of his excellence as an educator and commitment to patient-centered care, it is our great honor to award Dr. Alberto Gasparoni the 2021 James H. and Hermine E. McLeran Faculty Award.