campus news

Mentoring program aims to support professional growth of dental faculty


Published March 2, 2023

Debra Stamm.
“STEER is particularly important to dentistry because experts report low levels of mentoring in the dental profession. ”
Debra Stamm, program director
Support, Training, Early-/Mid-career, Enhancement, and Retention program

The School of Dental Medicine (SDM) is taking a proactive stance in supporting and enhancing professional growth for early to mid-career dental faculty through STEER (Support, Training, Early-/Mid-career, Enhancement, and Retention), a new, formal mentoring program.

“Effective mentoring programs are important components to recruiting and retaining talented faculty,” says Debra Stamm, STEER program director. “They contribute to career goal achievement and lead to increased professional development and satisfaction. STEER is particularly important to dentistry because experts report low levels of mentoring in the dental profession.

“Our STEER program is designed to address this gap,” Stamm explains, “and meet the needs of SDM faculty, which often includes unique resources for clinical educators in academia.”

The program was created to address specific career needs within clinical dentistry faculty. Core curriculum will focus on clinical practice, leadership, professional development, promotion and tenure, teaching, research and service, with presentations designed around the needs and interests of each cohort.

National data trends reported by the American Dental Educational Association show increasing turnover by clinical faculty — with substantial intellectual costs to institutions. This turnover can diminish workplace morale and perpetuate declining interest in academia. Of equal concern are the inequities of race and gender in dentistry — partially exemplified by the fact that 80% of dental school leadership is male and disproportionally white.

Training and equipping senior faculty to provide supportive and effective mentorship to the faculty fellows is also a key component of the STEER program. Senior-level faculty members across disciplines from UB, SUNY and other academic institutions are encouraged to apply to be mentors. Mentors will receive specialized training on best practices in mentoring while connecting with other academic leaders; they also will receive a stipend and special recognition.

“Most importantly, this role provides faculty with a unique opportunity to share their expertise and impact the next generation of dental researchers and educators,” Stamm says.

The School of Dental Medicine is seeking applications for mentors and fellows; the application deadline is April 1. Those who are selected to be mentors will take part in training workshops in May and June in preparation for the launch of the mentoring program in July.

The STEER fellowship program was established by the SDM Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in collaboration with the UB Office for Inclusive Excellence and the UB SDM Faculty Affairs, as well as national and international experts.