Tips From Current D.D.S. and Dental Hygiene Students

Pursuing a Dual Career - Dental Education and Clinical Practice

Posted by Eric Smith on June 01, 2014

The straight-forward answer to the question ‘why do you want to be an educator in addition to a practicing clinician?’ is relatively simple: teaching feels great, and clinical practice feels great too. Now, the answer to the question ‘WHY does teaching feel great?’ requires a much more in-depth and inevitably incomplete description of my feelings on the matter, as are all explanations about why individuals have passion for a particular activity or topic.

I have struggled so much to grasp a lot of the basic concepts in the dental sciences and in clinical dentistry. I am now in my 6th year of post-high school education, and I can confidently say that, when it comes to learning new topics and new skill sets, I am a (oftentimes frustratingly) linear thinker. My education has been built step-by-step, in a meticulous, painstaking manner. But, every so often, I reach a point in mastering a subject where I begin to understand the interconnectedness of the various subjects we are taught in the classroom, and how those topics can translate to the clinic. It is these flashes of inspiration that I am eager to tell others about, and that make me so excited to teach. I want students to gain a lifelong appreciation for the applicability of the basic sciences to clinical practice. And I want to be with students as they take their first steps in learning the art of clinical dentistry, to catalyze both their excellence in and passion with the profession.

On a more esoteric note, teaching is a way to keep my mind and my imagination active. I think that quality teaching is as dependent on imagination as it is on actual mastery of the subject matter being taught. Splitting my time between teaching and operating a private practice will allow me to pursue my passion for clinical dentistry while not sacrificing my talent as an educator.

I would like to close by sharing the best advice that my favorite teacher once gave to me: choose your path in life selfishly. Do things because they feel good, and do something that you’ll never get tired of. After more than 8 years of working as a tutor for younger students, I couldn’t imagine pursuing a career that robbed me of the opportunity to educate.

*post originally published 5/7/2013

About Eric Smith:

Eric Smith

University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2015

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada