Dr. Rick G. Mumford, a state leader within public health, has joined the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry as a clinical associate professor in the Department of Dental Ecology. Among his principal duties will be direction of the Dentistry in Service to Communities (DISC) Program and management of extramural student rotations.
Additionally, Mumford will develop clinical sites and initiatives related to recruitment, retention and recognition of preceptors and will work to advance the School’s community outreach activities. He also will teach in the DDS clinical curriculum; serve as course director for “Social and Ethical Issues in Dental Practice,” taught to all first-year dental students; and provide patient care within the School’s Dental Faculty Practice.
Dr. Eugene Sandler, who retired at the end of 2007 as clinical professor within dental ecology, had previously served as DISC Program and extramural rotations director.
Mumford previously served as senior assistant for the state health director on health disparities and workforce development (2005-2008). From 1999 to 2003, he was chief of dental public health services for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health. Mumford added that during this time, he worked regularly with Sandler in helping to identify community health sites for rotations; through that interaction, he learned much about the School’s extensive outreach. “We maintained a professional relationship that grew into a friendship,” Mumford said of Sandler.
Other professional experience includes chairmanship of the Fayetteville Technical Community College’s dental hygiene department, private dental practice in Fayetteville and public health dentistry practice.
Mumford served more than two decades in the U.S. Army National Guard. From March 2004 to January 2005, he was on active duty as a triage officer and brigade dental surgeon in a field medical unit in Balad Ruz, Iraq.
He received his bachelor of science degree in biology from Austin Peay State University in 1977, his doctor of dental medicine degree from the University of Kentucky in 1981 and his master of public health degree in health policy and administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1991.
Mumford began his career in 1981 as a senior assistant dental surgeon with the U.S. Public Health Service through the National Health Service Corps. His two-year assignment was at the Stedman-Wade Health Services in Stedman.
“In a purely clinical setting, we treat one patient at a time,” said Mumford. “In public health, we truly are able to touch the lives of communities of people at a time. So it broadens the reach we all have, the impact we may have on people’s lives. That, to me, was enticing – instead of one at a time, a community at a time.”
Mumford said he hopes to further enhance the School’s DISC Program’s involvement within community health settings, building crucial associations between dental students and community service. “I think building those relationships and making those connections carries over into private practice. Whatever they do in their future in dentistry, those are good connections to have.”