Mentoring and Nurturing Key to Developing Future Dental Educators

Eleith Brown, M.S., D.D.S.Eleith Brown, M.S., D.D.S., began her career as a very successful teacher, but concern for her students’ oral health and their lack of dental hygiene education motivated her to make a life-altering change. After completing a master’s degree in in biomedical science and pharmacology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now the Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences) and applying to dental school in five different cycles, she matriculated at the Howard University College of Dentistry (HU COD) in 2011.

HU COD has participated in the ADEA/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Minority Dental Faculty Development (ADEA MDFD) program since its inception in 2004. The ADEA MDFD program has reinforced the university’s commitment to training underrepresented minority students and caring for underserved populations by increasing students’ awareness of possibilities for advanced education and careers within dental education. 

Dr. Brown is deeply appreciative of the nurturing environment she found at HU COD, and of the mentoring and academic support she received from Donna Grant-Mills, D.D.S., M.Ed., RDH, and other faculty and staff. Dr. Grant-Mills, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions, reflects on her mentorship responsibility: “The unique experience in my continuing relationship with Dr. Brown is based on her acceptance of mentorship as a participatory exercise. Deeply woven into the exchange is a ‘high touch’ humanistic approach that completes and sustains a holistic cycle of values, beliefs, attitudes and actions that are essential for service.” Dr. Grant-Mills will continue the mentor relationship in support of Dr. Brown’s long term career development. 

Dr. Brown is now a General Practice Resident at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ, where she is working to improve her sedation and surgical skills and clinical expertise and increase her experience caring for acute, chronically ill, aged and special needs patients. Her $340,000 student loan debt does not deter her from continuing her training and development. She expects to play a leadership role in the recruitment of underrepresented minorities, especially women, into careers in dentistry, and her teaching experience and love of students support her long-term goals for an academic career. 

This article was first published in the October 2015 edition of the ADEA
  Bulletin of Dental Education