November 2018 Volume LIII Number 6

 
 
 
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Resident’s Corner

Why We Teach

November 2015 Volume L Number 6

By Colleen Greene, D.M.D., M.P.H.

The end of residency is an exciting time. You’ll bid farewell to your co-residents and move on from your program as a new pediatric dentist. Starting over as an independent practitioner will be a stretch from your comfort zone. You’ll miss your daily staff interactions and the camaraderie of residency life. At least, this is the normal transition.
 
For my colleagues and me, we took a very different turn in our first year after residency. Three of the four of us in our class stayed on full-time in our hospital-based program as faculty. We’re providing care and mentoring residents at our main campus clinic satellite sites, as well as the operating room. We’re developing lecture series and creating program improvements while supporting the strong foundation that attracted us in the first place.
 
Our backgrounds and motivations to work for a residency program vary, though we share a lot of common ground. One of us will be moving on after a year to open a private practice out of state. One of us was already in practice over five years before residency. I always planned to work in public health. It didn’t occur to me right away that postdoctoral dental education offered a rewarding blend of providing care to vulnerable communities as well as guiding talented residents.
 
Dr. Barton Sloan graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in 2013 and began residency at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin immediately. He explains, "Working in a residency program is a way to give back to the profession. By associating yourself with the residency program you increase your exposure to those with the greatest need who are oftentimes under served. The ability to associate with and collaborate with other medical experts is invaluable."
 
My class shared one challenging experience in our first year of residency: our program director died suddenly. Dr. A. Charles "Chuck" Post was involved in the program for over 35 years. His steadfast dedication to residents and to the community we serve left a strong impression on everyone with whom he worked. Attending his memorial service together, we saw a powerful testament to the impact of his career as a pediatric dentist educator.
 
Influenced by Post’s legacy, Dr. Jamie Bass shares that joining the faculty of our residency program "was a hard decision for me to make and ultimately it came down to what I thought would be a more fulfilling career." She graduated from the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry in 2008 and worked in private and corporate practices before applying to residency. She shares, "I had a couple of great private practice opportunities that I turned down for a full time faculty position."
 
There are commonly held misconceptions about what it means to work as an attending in a residency program. Bass addresses the stereotype that our role is to monitor resident care rather than lead by example: "The faculty role I’m in allows me to treat my own patients alongside the residents 75 percent of the time."
 
"Another misconception," according to Sloan, "is that you can’t work as an educator and make a fair wage for your services. The starting salary in a residency program is lower than private practice, but it is still an amount that can support a family while paying off student loans.  I certainly did not stay on because I was scared of the real world or didn’t feel prepared for it. I stayed on because 1) I love the environment, 2) the salary is such that my wife and I will be able to pay down our student debt while saving a significant amount for our business startup, 3) paid personal leave is a wonderful life line for me as I’ll require time off to build/manage my office that we’ve recently broken ground for, 4) serving the underserved is truly rewarding."
 
Dr. Julio Sotillo is a new in the residency program at the University of Minnesota, where he also got his D.D.S. before pursuing pediatric dentistry at UCSF. He finished his residency in June 2015 and transitioned to Minnesota for a full-time academic position. His career advice for residents: "Connections are very important! Consulting with a mentor to discuss your career goals is a great place to start. As you establish connections (through referrals, attending meetings, etc.), know that the world of pediatric dentistry is small—no pun intended. So, make friends and stay active locally and nationally."
 
Do you know any recent residency graduates working in dental education? Send their names and contact information to cgreene@chw.org for a chance to be featured in a future PDT article.
 

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Membership-ColleenGreene5x7c Dr. Colleen Greene