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Report offers solutions to address decline in US dental faculty
Date:1/27/2011

A new report by an Indiana University School of Dentistry department chair with researchers from six other U.S. dental schools is calling for quick and creative solutions to address the growing scarcity of full-time faculty members within the nation's dental school programs.

The report cites widening pay gaps between private practice dentists and clinical professors at dental schools as one factor in fewer dentists committing to careers in teaching. Clinical faculty also report being overwhelmed and burned out by the workload demands of teaching, clinical, research and administrative responsibilities.

Published in the January edition of the Journal of Dental Education, the paper calls for the development of mandatory mentoring programs, among other recommendations, to help reverse the trend.

"We feel it is essential that mentoring programs be considered mandatory within dental schools if this trend toward a major crisis in dentistry is to be reversed as rapidly as possible," said Dr. Vanchit John, chairman of the IU School of Dentistry's Department of Periodontics and Allied Dental Programs and the lead author of the report. "Clinical faculty shortages could be characterized as the most critical challenge confronting dentistry."

Citing an average of almost seven faculty vacancies per dental school and an average pay gap between general practice dentists and clinical faculty of $86,000 a year, the report, titled "Recruitment, Development and Retention of Dental Faculty in a Changing Environment," offers a comprehensive outline for restoring teaching numbers.

Among other proposals are improved faculty compensation, new loan and tuition repayment and waiver programs, junior faculty development scholarships and allowing more flexibility for clinical faculty to have time for private practices.

"We're calling it the 'Growing Our Own' plan," John said. "And the concept of growing our own faculty and develop
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Contact: Steve Chaplin
stjchap@indiana.edu
812-856-1896
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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