The Aspen Group University Opens Impressive Learning Facility in Chicago


Facility features a mock Aspen Dental practice, hands-on courses, on-demand learning platforms, interactive learning studio, and courses designed for leadership, business, and clinical skills.

The Aspen Group University Opens Impressive Learning Facility in Chicago | Image Credit: © Stan Goff

The Aspen Group University Opens Impressive Learning Facility in Chicago | Image Credit: © Stan Goff

The Aspen Group University (TAG U) showed off its impressive new facilities and interactive learning capabilities at an exclusive preview Thursday afternoon at its headquarters in Chicago.

Located in Chicago’s West Loop, the TAG U building first opened just prior to the pandemic and is located just a couple blocks from the TAG Oral Care Center for Excellence, a new 25,000 sq. ft. clinic that provides cutting-edge comprehensive dental care at no cost to underserved Illinois residents.

At Thursday’s event, Bob Fontana, Founder/CEO, Aspen Dental and Chairman, The Aspen Group, kicked off the festivities in one of the learning rooms at TAG U and informed the attendees that Aspen Dental is celebrating its 25th anniversary and that the company’s headquarters will also eventually include Chapter, ClearChoice, and WellNow as TAG expands beyond dental.

“We are so excited about TAG U, the best facility in the industry,” Fontana says. “Here we will give folks the mentorship and leadership to succeed. When we bring people here we see connections with people throughout the country.”

Aspen Dental has more than 1000 locations in 45 states, and TAG U expects those numbers to continue to grow with the learning facility playing a key role in preparing new dentists for success. With the latest expansion into other areas of healthcare and veterinary services, the university will also now be used to teach clinical esthetics (Chapter Aesthetic Studio), ClearChoice dental implants, urgent care (WEllNow) and animal care (AZPetVet).

The Aspen Group University Opens Impressive Learning Facility in Chicago | Credit: Stan Goff

Bob Fontana, Founder/CEO, Aspen Dental and Chairman, The Aspen Group, speaks at Thursday's TAG U event in Chicago. | Image Credit: © Stan Goff

With more than 20 years of experience in the learning industry, Chrissie Leibman is the SVP of Leadership and Development and Dean of TAG U. She describes the university as a collection of world-class learning experiences and a destination for development across a diverse set of campuses. The facility features a mock Aspen Dental practice with 6 operatories, hands-on courses, on-demand learning platforms, a Harvard-inspired interactive learning studio, and courses designed for leadership and business prowess, in addition to developing great clinical skills. Additionally, clinicians learn great skills at the TAG Oral Care Center up the street while providing a tremendous service to the community.

“This is a community that enables and encourages growth,” Leibman says. “We learn about what will help us today and to dream about where we’ll go in the future.”

Arwinder Judge, DDS, Chief Clinical Officer, Aspen Dental Management, Inc (ADMI) was on hand Thursday and made it clear that TAG U’s faculty is what will lead the way to the organization’s success and to the success of many young clinicians. Sundeep Rawal, DMD, Senior Vice President of Implant Support Services at Aspen Dental, explained some of the restorative implants educational opportunities and a presentation indicated that Aspen Dental general practitioners typically place twice as many implants than other GPs each year.

Andrew De La Rosa, DMD, VP of Clinical Support at ADMI, explained how the comprehensive courses prepare young dentists with the business, leadership and clinical skills needed to become a great clinician. New dentists to Aspen take part in a 6-month experience designed to improve clinical confidence, build rapport and trust with patients, develop comprehensive treatment plans, and ensure new doctors’ engagement and retention, Dr De La Rosa says. Additionally, the learners get partnered with a mentor doctor.

“There’s a lot of foundational learning and lots of strategy behind it,” he says, adding that since the program launched last year 80% of the clinicians are still with Aspen.

Another key focus of education at TAG U is dentures, and Eric Kukucka plays a big role as the group’s Vice President of Clinical Removable Prosthetics & Design Technologies.

Kukucka left a successful private practice to teach the latest in denture technologies, including 3D-printed dentures. He is passionate about the advancements in digital technology with respect to removable prosthodontics today, and with the promising future of more clinicians learning how to rehabilitate edentulous patients and improve their quality of life.

He adds that TRIOS intraoral scanners are a big part of the learning at TAG U and that digital dentures are allowing more clinicians to efficiently deliver more predictable dentures to more patients.

Thursday’s sneak peek at TAG U closed out with a reception on the 15th floor—the tour included a stop at the interactive studio on the 10th floor—and will be followed by an official opening later this month.

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