J Oral Maxillofac 49.1263,
Learning to Keep our Teachers tions placed upon them. Finally, many oral and maxillofacial surgeons migrate to the teaching centers because they believe that this environment will enable them to have a broader scope of surgical experience. This should also be an attainable goal. Why then, if an academic position provides such opportunities, do faculty become disillusioned and enter the private sector? Although problems with “red tape” and institutional politics, as well as inability to achieve one’s academic goals, are sometimes given as the main reasons, the most common complaint appears to be the dichotomy between the level of income attainable in an academic position and that acquired from private practice. Whereas those in teaching positions are aware of this situation, and initially are willing to accept it in exchange for other benefits not available to the private practitioner, they eventually tend to become dissatisfied when the difference is so great as to cause family pressures and other conflicts. Based upon these considerations, there are a number of steps that chairpersons can take to help improve faculty retention. First, of course, the matter of adequate income needs to be addressed. Although in these times of fiscal constraint this may be a difficult problem to resolve, every effort must be made to accomplish it. But money alone cannot compensate for the lack of other benefits. One needs to see that there is a proper balance between teaching duties, clinical activities, and time for scholarly endeavors. Too often young faculty find themselves torn between their clinical and teaching obligations on the one hand and the need for scholarly pursuit to fulfill tenure requirements on the other. It is the obligation of the chairperson to see that there is adequate time for both. There is also the need to nurture young faculty members by helping them gain clinical experience, providing time for continuing education, and enabling them to attain increasing levels of responsibility in both the educational and administrative areas. The responsible department head needs to assure that every young faculty member ultimately develops into a potential candidate for a leadership position. Through these accomplishments, the recruitment and retention of faculty should greatly improve. If faculty do leave, it should be to assume positions at other institutions and not to enter the private sector. The future of our specialty depends heavily on the young teachers of today. It is our obligation to do everything possible to keep them within the fold.
There are many factors that contribute to the success oral and maxillofacial surgery has achieved as a specialty. It attracts outstanding residents, provides comprehensive training, and offers constant challenges to stimulate the intellectual and technical skills of its practitioners. Moreover, it constantly strives to produce the best in patient care by strict monitoring of the educational process and by setting appropriate standards for clinical practice. As a result of these efforts, oral and maxillofacial surgery has become a leading specialty in dentistry. A key ingredient in this entire process has been the educators. They are the persons who select the trainees, nurture them through their formative years, ingrain them with the appropriate attitudes, and instill in them the motivation to maintain continued excellence. They too are the ones who most often develop the research that leads to new advancements in the field, and pioneer the techniques that improve our care of patients and expand our scope into new areas. Thus, just as we strive to attract the best dental graduates into our residency programs, so must we attract the best teachers to train them. While the latter has not always been difficult to achieve, the retention of such individuals has frequently been a problem. Since it is these young persons who ultimately become the program directors of the future, we need to place as much emphasis on their quality and development as we do on the selection and training of residents. Unfortunately, in recent years, not only have we seen problems with the recruitment process, but also there have been increasing difficulties in the retention of faculty. While one might naturally expect some loss of nontenured faculty, the loss of tenured faculty to private practice and the reported problems in securing experienced replacements for program directors and departmental chairpersons signal a serious deficiency in our educational programs. It is certainly a situation that deserves our urgent attention. Among the reasons must frequently given by oral and maxillofacial surgeons for seeking an academic position is the desire to teach. This is an admirable objective and one that should be easy to accomplish. There are also those who wish to include clinical or basic research among their activities, and who have a desire to write and publish papers. They too should be able to achieve their objectives, although it may be difficult in some institutions, not only because of problems in obtaining proper funding and adequate laboratory space, but also because of the time-consuming demands for service func-
DANIEL M. LASKIN