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J Dent Educ. 2008 Apr;72(4):448-57.

Reflections on academic careers by current dental school faculty.

Author information

1
Marquette University School of Dentistry, USA. James_Roger@urmc.rochester.edu

Abstract

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.

PMID:
18381851
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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