Between 1946 and 1951 the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery training at this institution consisted of a 12-month internship offered by MCV Hospitals under the Division of Oral Surgery within the Department of Surgery. The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program was formally established in 1952, accepting one resident a year. In June 1953, two new interns were accepted for one year. At the completion of that year, one of these interns was selected to go forward into a second and third year residency program. The completion of three years resulted in being eligible to take the American Board examination in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. The program continued as a three-year residency until 1977 when the residency program was expanded to four years and three residents were accepted each year.
Between 1950 and 1961 the program was staffed by two full-time surgeons; Dr. Leroy Smith, a board certified plastic surgeon, and Dr. Atwood Wash, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The program also included off-campus clinical rotations at other hospitals around Richmond, including training under Dr. S. Elmer Bear.
Dr. Bear was appointed department chair after the death of Dr. Wash in 1961. Bear held this position until his untimely death in 1981. During this time the reputation of the program and the department was raised to new levels institutionally, nationally and internationally.
Between 1981 and 1984, Dr. John Alexander was acting chair until 1984 when Dr. Daniel Laskin assumed the chairmanship. At that time the program was limited to 10 residents, with three residents accepted one year and two the next. This system continues today.
In 1989, an optional two-year track to earn an M.D. degree was added to the curriculum of the program. This track was designed to allow graduates of the residency program to enroll in the VCU School of Medicine and obtain an M.D. degree. Since then, seven graduates have pursed this option and obtained M.D. degrees.
The leadership of the department has included many prominent oral and maxillofacial surgeons; Dr. Wash, Dr. Bear, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Laskin and Dr. A. Omar Abubaker. It also includes Dr. Louis Mercuri and Dr. Robert Strauss, as residency program directors.
The leadership of the department and the program, the knowledge and expertise of the faculty, the large number and wide variety of patients treated at the institution, and the extensive didactic curriculum, have all contributed to the excellence of the residency program. The program has remained fully accredited over the years, with nearly 100 percent success rate in residents passing the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. There have been more than 110 graduates of the program. Among the graduates are six current or former oral and maxillofacial surgery department chairmen, two presidents of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, two presidents of the Virginia Dental Association, and many superb clinicians around the country and abroad.