Part-time Teaching Yields Full-time Rewards
One of the first calls Dr. Lauren Hubbard made before moving to Minnesota from Chicago earlier this year was to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. She knew that, no matter where she and her husband chose to live and work in the Twin Cities, she wanted to teach dental students part time at the U of M.
“I like the honesty and the ethics in the academic environment,” she said. “I love the focus on doing what is right for the patient no matter what. This work keeps me happy. It is a priority.”
The 2014 graduate of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry got her first taste of teaching at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry, where she worked two days per week while also seeing her own patients three days in private practice.
Now Hubbard, 31, practices at West Lakes Dental in Mound, Minn., four days each week, and spends every Tuesday with students in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program on campus.
“The clinical teaching environment is completely different from private practice,” she says. “There are no scheduling pressures to see multiple patients or perform multiple procedures. Students may take the entire clinic session to work on a single procedure. It makes for a good learning environment. Students can take the time to learn and perform each step thoroughly.”
Hubbard says her teaching experience makes her a better dentist and her private practice experience makes her an effective teacher.
“When I’m preparing a tooth for a crown in private practice, for example, I am now constantly thinking about the grading rubric we use to evaluate a student’s work,” she says. “And I ask myself if I’m staying true to those standards.”
One essential trait she tries to build in each of her students is the capacity to critically evaluate their own work.
“When they leave here, they must hold themselves accountable,” she says. “I tell students no one is perfect. What sets a good dentist apart from a great dentist is how well you self-reflect on your work. Take the time to reflect and redo something if it isn’t up to standard.”
As a newcomer to the Twin Cities dentistry community this year, Hubbard says working as an adjunct professor has enabled her to make instant connections with other professionals.
“It is a quality group of dentists who choose to work here,” she says. “We talk and go to lunch every week. I could reach out to any of them about a unique case or practice situation and get their ideas.”
Hubbard recognizes that, while the pay is modest, the less tangible rewards are great.
“You give back, yes, but your cup gets refilled as well,” she says. “The students are very responsible. They work hard and they appreciate your guidance. My time is well spent.”