100 Years of ADEA: Dr. Timothy J. Treat


Timothy J. Treat, D.D.S.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Clinic Director, DDS Group 1
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Comprehensive Care
Indiana University School of Dentistry

Dr. Timothy Treat served as Chair of the ADEA Council of Students, Residents and Fellows (ADEA COSRF) from 2015-2016 and as ADEA Board Director for Students, Residents and Fellows from 2016-2019 while a student at Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD). He is now Clinical Assistant Professor and Clinic Director at IUSD. In 2018, he became a recipient of the 10 Under 10 award from the American Dental Association, recognizing 10 amazing dentists who graduated from a dental school less than 10 years ago.

In the following Q&A, Dr. Treat reflects on his years in ADEA COSRF, how he decided on his career path and how the dental profession can encourage more dental students to enter academic dentistry in the future.

Q. Why did you pursue the dental profession?

Growing up, my father owned a small clothing business in Plymouth, IN, that my grandfather started in 1966. Working there during high school, I thought that I wanted to own my own business, just not in the retail sector. My childhood dentists in Plymouth were also close family friends and through their mentorship and encouragement, I decided that I wanted to be a dentist!

Q. You joined ADEA while still a dental student and got involved in ADEA COSRF and later became board director. What role do you think COSRF has had in helping to spread the word about the dental profession and oral health?

The ADEA Council of Students, Residents and Fellows is uniquely positioned to demonstrate pathways to academic dental careers for dental and allied dental students in the United States and Canada. With potential student members at every institution and program, we can continue building and supporting ADEA Chapters for Students, Residents and Fellows that share the mission of ADEA locally and regionally. These ADEA Chapters promote the dental profession and oral health by working locally on dental education pathway programs and dental experience days for predental students. Additional events targeted towards dental and allied dental students may include “Last Lecture” series and “Why I Teach” panel presentations that highlight the value of academic careers.

Q. You said in an interview once that you originally wanted to go into private practice, but you decided you’d rather teach dentistry instead. What influenced your change in your career path?

As a first-year dental student at Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD), I was offered the opportunity to attend the 2013 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition in Seattle, WA. At that time, there was not an active ADEA Chapter at Indiana and, prior to starting dental school, I had never considered that there were dentists who teach. That week, Dean Emeritus John Williams invited me to join him and other IUSD faculty and administrators at the William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation and Achievement dinner and gala. Seeing the amazing accomplishments of dental educators celebrated in this way led me to set my sights on a career in dental education that very night.

Q. How do you think the profession can encourage more Generation Y and Z students to get into academic dentistry, like yourself?

One impactful thing that comes to mind is meeting students where they are with communication about careers in dental education. We must simultaneously continue to pursue high-quality in-person outreach to predental students and current dental and allied dental students AND continue to develop and share outstanding content directly to their devices. I am not a social media professional, but communication channels with potential students and colleagues are changing rapidly and it is critical that we continually re-evaluate our strategies and invest in the most effective, evidence-based tools to achieve our vision.

Q. Which of your accomplishments in relationship to ADEA and/or dental education, in general, are you most proud of?

Serving as Chair of COSRF from 2015-2016 and Board Director for Students, Residents and Fellows from 2016-2019, I am most proud of our work building out the infrastructure to develop and support potential ADEA Chapters for Students, Residents and Fellows at every academic dental institution and program in North America. The presence of an active ADEA Chapter in an academic dental institution raises awareness of the association and its mission among students, staff, faculty and administrators, promotes leadership development, and will lead to more dental students choosing to pursue a career in dental education.