Students made me a Better Dentist

Dr. Ernest Martin III has worked as a part-time faculty member for the School of Dentistry for more than 30 years while maintaining his own private practice.

“I always look forward to my time in clinic each week,” said Martin, who works with students in the dental clinic. “When I was working full time, it was a refreshing way to break up the week. The students are smart, receptive, engaging and fun. And they have certainly made me a better dentist.”

When he retired from private practice recently, Martin not only kept his adjunct teaching role, but expanded his commitment from one day to three full days each week.

“When I first started, I was close to the same age as the students, and that made teaching very enjoyable,” he said. “Now I believe I help them considerably with patient management and dealing with people. It’s almost impossible to teach that in a classroom. But in the clinic, I can model it. And I can share approaches to unique problems for which there may not be a single textbook answer.”

Martin returned to the school to teach just three years after he graduated from the DDS program at the University of Minnesota and following his service in the US Air Force. Every Tuesday and Thursday he would leave his downtown Minneapolis practice mid-day and take the bus to the University of Minnesota Dental Clinic on the East Bank of campus, where he would mentor students in the clinic through the afternoon.

While School of Dentistry adjunct faculty are paid a modest amount, Martin says few dentists will teach part time for the money. “The rewards are camaraderie with other adjunct faculty, being with young people and the opportunity to give back to the profession,” he said.

Martin says he always has his eye out for students who may enjoy teaching later in their careers. “Being an adjunct faculty is a great way to try out teaching to see if it is a good fit,” he said. “There are some who are natural mentors, and when I see them, I suggest they come back and teach because it’s rewarding and because they are going to be good at it.”

For more information on part-time teaching opportunities at the U of M School of Dentistry, please contact Dr. Dan Menser or Dr. Gary Hildebrandt to learn more.

Earnest Martin III
Dr. Ernest Martin (second from right) with Doctor of Dental Surgery students in the comprehensive care clinic on campus.