Reflections on academic careers by current dental school faculty

Marquette University School of Dentistry, USA.
Journal of dental education (Impact Factor: 0.97). 05/2008; 72(4):448-57.
Source: PubMed


During the inaugural year (2006-07) of the Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP), 110 faculty members at ten different dental schools were interviewed by dental students who were participating as ADCFP fellows in this year-long program designed to introduce them to faculty roles and activities and help them gain an appreciation for the rewards and issues associated with academic life. The goals, format, and components of the ADCFP are described in a companion article in this issue of the Journal of Dental Education. One of the fellows' assignments during the ADCFP was to interview faculty at various academic ranks who had differing degrees of work emphasis in teaching, research, service/patient care, and administration. Sixty-nine (63 percent of the total) of these interviews were reviewed and analyzed by the authors, who were student fellows in the ADCFP during 2006-07. The purpose of these interviews was to provide the fellows with insight into the positive aspects and challenges in becoming and remaining a dental school faculty member. This aggregate perspective of the interviews conducted at ten dental schools highlights the motivations and challenges that confront a dentist during the process of choosing a career in academic dentistry and determining if dental education is a good fit for each individual who elects to pursue this pathway. Thematic analysis of the interviews revealed several factors consistently identified by faculty across the schools as being positive influences on the quality of the academic work environment and career satisfaction: mentorship and student interaction, opportunities for scholarship (research and discovery), job diversity, intellectual challenge, satisfaction with the nature of academic work, lifestyle/family compatibility, flexibility, lifelong learning, professional duty, and lab responsibility. A series of negative themes were also consistently identified: bureaucracy/administrative burdens and barriers, time commitment, financial frustration, political frustration, lack of mentorship, required research emphasis, lack of teaching skills development, student engagement, isolation, and funding uncertainty. This article reports the approximate frequency of each theme, presents representative statements that describe the motivations and attitudes of dental faculty members who were interviewed, and concludes with a review of programs/methods aimed at marketing academic careers to current students. The purpose of this review of the rewards, benefits, and challenges that current dental faculty face is to provide students who are considering dental education with a frame of reference to guide their further exploration of this career path and to help students appreciate the many positive aspects of academic life that may not be readily apparent from their own interactions with faculty members.

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Available from: Meggan Wehmeyer, Sep 12, 2014
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    • "Rogér et al. revealed that some factors such as mentorship and student interaction, opportunities for scholarship (research and discovery) and job diversity had positive influences; and bureaucracy/administrative burdens and barriers, time commitment and financial frustration had negative influence on job satisfaction of dental academic members.[7] "
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    ABSTRACT: The Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program (ADCFP) was established in 2006 by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) with the financial support of the ADA Foundation to encourage dental students to consider careers in dental education and to provide participating fellows with insights into academic life. The ADA Foundation provided funding during the 2006-07 academic year for eleven dental student fellows, who were paired with faculty mentors at their respective schools. Fellows and mentors attended a two-day retreat in the summer of 2006, and over the course of the subsequent year in dental school, the fellows with guidance from their mentors participated in preclinical laboratory, classroom, small-group, and clinical teaching experiences; designed and implemented a research project; developed a philosophy of education; completed career reflection essays; assembled a portfolio to represent their ADCFP activities and projects; conducted a series of interviews with faculty designed to expose students to roles, issues, and career paths in academic dentistry; and presented a synopsis of their experiences at the ADEA Annual Session in New Orleans in March 2007. The fellows and mentors completed midyear and end-of-year evaluations of the ADCFP in which feedback and recommendations were collected by telephone interviews and questionnaires. Fellows reported positive experiences and an increased interest in and understanding of academic careers. Mentors also evaluated the ADCFP positively and reported enhancements in their mentoring skills. This article describes the goals and format of the ADCFP, summarizes program evaluation data elicited from the fellows and mentors, and proposes recommendations for future fellowship classes.
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