Dental health care can be hard to come by in rural areas, so many graduates at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine have made it their mission to address this lack of access, including the newest member of the Dental Alumni Association (DAA) Board, Dr. James Mancini (A&S ’82, DEN ‘87).
Dr. Mancini recently closed his private practice in Pittsburgh, where he currently lives, after about 20 years of business; he now practices in Meadville, Pa., a town closer to Erie than it is to Pittsburgh.
“I drive 92 miles to go to work every day. Hour and a half up, hour and a half back,” he said. “I can hit a golf ball out my front yard and hit five dentists. I can’t do that up here.”
In addition to his own practice, he’s currently a trustee in the Ninth District Dental Society and a member of the Governor’s Children’s Health Insurance Program Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) as well as a member of the Presidential Task Force on Sugar, Nutrition and Diet; past chair of the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention; and advisory board member of the Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) program within the American Dental Association.
It’s his role with GKAS, an organization that provides comprehensive, free dental care to children who can’t access care due to lack of insurance or financial difficulties, that Dr. Mancini describes as “one of the best things in my career.” When he joined GKAS, Dr. Mancini was chosen to travel to a training facility to learn how he could implement the program into his own practice. As he prepared to open his dental office to the children in his area, the purpose of the program became clear: “We want to give them a dental home, where they can keep coming back to our office.”
Dr. Mancini’s work has taken him across the country and throughout Pennsylvania, and he always appreciates the chance to meet and visit with fellow Pitt Dental Medicine graduates that have also taken their expertise through the Pittsburgh region and beyond. He continues to find connections within the Pitt Dental Medicine alumni community—both during alumni events and in his work as a trustee for PDA, where three out of the 10 current trustees in his district are not only fellow Pitt Dental Medicine graduates, but members of his own graduating class. In his work on the DAA Board, he looks forward to the chance to facilitate the same connections for other Pitt Dental Medicine alumni.
He hopes the connections he’s made with fellow alumni will be as important for future graduates as they are to him. Regarding the advice he gives current students, Dr. Mancini reminds them to “remember where you went to dental school. I’m always hammering them over the years, ‘Don’t forget about the University of Pittsburgh,’” he said. And as he joins the DAA Board, “I can do that even more.”
Dr. Mancini has taken his University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine education far. Now joining the DAA Board, he’s ready to learn from what other board members have done since their graduations.
“I can’t wait to meet everybody. I’m an open book,” he said. “I’m a Pitt grad, I love the University of Pittsburgh, and I can’t wait to get started.”