NJDS program addresses dental faculty shortage

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey -- New Jersey Dental School (NJDS) in Newark is training 45 general and pediatric dentists to teach at dental schools in the Middle Atlantic states to help address a nationwide shortage of faculty.

The two-year From Practice to Preceptor program, supported by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to provide teachers for dental schools in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to the university.

The dentists will learn a broad set of skills, enabling them to teach, fill administrative and leadership roles, provide dental care, and conduct research in an academic environment. Special emphasis will be on developing culturally competent faculty members with expertise in treating underserved populations.

The first five participants are listed below:

  • Maria Ambriosio, DDS, a general dentist who practices in Wayne, NJ
  • Deborah Brown, DDS, a NJDS graduate and general dentist in Plainfield, NJ
  • Angie Papandrikos, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Tenafly, NJ
  • Valerie Rico, DDS, a NJDS graduate and general dentist in Edison, NJ
  • Bradley Smith, DMD, a NJDS graduate and general dentist in Marlton, NJ

According to NJDS, the shortage of dental educators results from several factors:

  • A "graying faculty" with an average age of 55 to 60
  • An increase in the number of dental schools nationwide
  • The inability of dental schools to pay salaries commensurate with those earned in private practice

During the first year, trainees will spend one day per week at NJDS's Newark campus, observing and teaching in the clinic. Working alongside experienced faculty, they will learn to deliver culturally competent care and to treat and interact with special populations, such as HIV/AIDS patients and also children and adults with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. Hands-on experience will include observing and treating patients at NJDS's clinic and other clinics that serve the disabled, nursing-home residents and Medicaid patients.

The program is free for qualified practicing general and pediatric dentists. Those who enroll earn continuing dental education credits, gain access to the school's resources, and receive a small stipend.

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