It's not every day a dental school honors a dental technician. But that's exactly what the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) has done for Jason Kim--twice.
In May, the school named Jason Kim a clinical assistant professor. Last year, the school honored Kim by naming the laboratory at its Rosenthal Institute of Aesthetic Dentistry continuing education center "Jason J. Kim Dental Laboratory."
"For the past five years, we've done numerous continuing education programs at NYU. My partner [Peter Kouvaris] and I teach at its residency program and we've developed a great relationship with the school. It's great for our profession for a laboratory to be honored in such a way by a dental school," says Jason Kim, founder and president of the laboratory, which has locations in Port Washington and Manhattan, New York.
Advancement through education and knowledge has always been Kim's philosophy, since he came to the U.S. from South Korea when he was 18 years old and didn't speak any English. "I knew if I wanted to get ahead and grow in this industry technically and clinically, I needed education," says Kim. "I feel blessed by the opportunities this country has given me. For me, fabricating teeth is a way to make money but teaching is a way to give back."
In that vein, Kim developed the curriculum for NYUCD's Mastering Aesthetics and Ceramics for the Advanced Dental Technician program which was started last year. He designed the course to provide hands-on, practical experience that students can implement immediately into their labs. It covers communication tools, model work, articulation, occlusion, waxups, PFMs, porcelain laminates, zirconia and pressable restorations and incorporates live patient interaction. Because of the success of the inaugural program, it is being offered again starting this month and running through July 2007.
Taking a leadership role as an educator has also been a key factor in his laboratory's growth and success over the past 19 years. As a marketing strategy, meeting the dentist's need for both technical knowledge and practice management advice has proven to be a valuable one, enhancing the lab's reputation and enabling it to charge fees that are more than twice the industry's national averages.
To prepare themselves for their responsibilities as educators, Kim and Kouvaris have taken a multitude of courses on clinical techniques, including prepping, implant surgery and periodontics. Both partners have also studied with Willi Geller and are members of his invitation-only group, Oral Design International. "There are only 65 members in the world so it's very prestigious. Its members are dedicated to education and elevating their knowledge as well as imparting their expertise to others in the industry," says Jack Manno, Kim's executive vice president and partner, who is responsible for the business aspects and financial growth of the 60-person, multi-million-dollar operation.
In addition to cross training his technicians on a daily basis, Kouvaris teaches courses for current and prospective dentist-clients at least once a month. These are basic to advanced level courses and topics include arch forms, non-invasive prep techniques, the art of temporization, correcting orthodontically compromised teeth and occlusion, full mouth reconstruction and combination cases, all with an emphasis on achieving maximum esthetics. The lab also periodically holds free hands-on digital photography and imaging programs for customers who want to use before- and- after patient photos as a tool to enhance their cosmetic businesses and increase their patient base; these courses are offered at the clients' offices.
"It's no longer just about "drill and fill" now that patients are educated enough to be asking about certain restorations by name. With things like CAD/CAM and zirconia, it's hard for a doctor to be on top of all the technology and know how to prep certain designs. Our goal is to give our dentist-clients the vision and the tools they need to be successful," says Manno.
Jason J. Kim Dental Laboratory Port Washington, NY
Jason J. Kim Dental Laboratory was founded by Jason Kim in 1990 in Woodside, New York with two technicians. Six years later, the laboratory moved to Great Neck, New York, with 12 technicians and Jack Manno joined the laboratory as a partner/marketing sales executive vice president.
In 2000, Kim and Manno built a second operation, Oral Design New York, which is 1,700 sq. ft. and located in Manhattan. In the same year, Peter Kouvaris became partner and chief technical operating officer/vice president.
Last year, the laboratory moved its Great Neck operation to a new 14,000-sq.-foot facility in Port Washington, New York. In addition to more than doubling its square footage, the facility features a 40-seat lecture room, shade/operatory room, 50-person lunch room and employee gym. It houses a high-tech audio/visual system for broadcasting throughout the laboratory; the system is also used to broadcast technical and clinical education for dentist-clients and technicians at offsite locations.
The laboratory celebrated its grand opening with a lavish cocktail and wine tasting party and special make-over event in May 2006.