Driven by the shortage of dental school faculty in New York and across the United States, Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine hosted its inaugural Dental Educators Day on Thursday, October 5, on Stony Brook University’s south campus. The event was held in conjunction with World Teachers’ Day, and will be celebrated at Stony Brook on the first Thursday in October each year.
“By sharing the innumerable benefits of being a dental educator, we hope to inspire students to pursue such a pathway, whether their career is here at Stony Brook or elsewhere,” said Patrick M. Lloyd, dean, Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine. “We also hope that other dental schools – in the US and beyond – recognize the value of such a forum and that they consider hosting a dental educators event in the coming years.”
With the increase in class size of many dental schools as well as the emergence of more than a dozen new dental schools in the last 15 years, the need to reinforce the faculty workforce has never been greater. According to an article in the Journal of Dental Education, over 40 percent of full-time dental faculty in the United States reported to be over 60 years of age. Recruitment of faculty is challenged as well by private practice opportunities that often provide greater levels of compensation.
Stony Brook is uniquely positioned to help dental students interested in an academic career get a head start. It is one of few institutions where students can earn an education degree — a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration — while in dental school with no additional tuition costs. Furthermore, Stony Brook’s general practice residents may complete a second year of training that is focused on developing their skills as didactic and clinical instructors.
“There are many tangible and intangible rewards that I have enjoyed as a faculty member at Stony Brook,” said Thomas Manders, director of Stony Brook’s Division of Endodontics, who was one of four panelists to speak with students attending the afternoon’s question-and-answer session with dental faculty. “Dental Educators Day has been a great opportunity to share what motivated me to stay in education at my alma mater, as well as advice for current students who are considering a similar path.”