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Community Connection - March 2009

PreceptorsNearly 70 HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry students and community preceptors gathered Jan. 23 at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas for what could be described as a mini-reunion of sorts.

The event was the 2009 Preceptor Appreciation Luncheon, coordinated by the public health sciences department and the Baylor College of Dentistry Alumni Association.

The preceptor program started in 1983 and continues as a one-week selective course for D4 students. Students work at a private practice or public clinic to experience the day-to-day dynamics of dental practices. Most of the preceptors are located in Texas, with a few in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado and New Mexico. Participating students receive a stipend from HSC-BCD for travel, lodging and meals during their week.

A separate curriculum was developed this year to distinguish between private and public preceptorships. Some students choose two preceptorships so they can experience both private offices and community clinic settings, says Leeanna Bartlett, assistant professor and director of social services.

TableThe January appreciation luncheon, held in conjunction with the Southwest Dental Conference, recognized the preceptors for their participation. Many dental students met up with their preceptors from last summer.

The group was addressed by fellow preceptor, alumnus and former part-time faculty member Dr. Jay Herrington, who owns a clinic in Palestine, Texas. He has served as a preceptor for many years and still keeps in touch with those who have visited him.

“This is a valuable program,” Herrington says. “It complements the excellent clinical education provided at Baylor.”

The primary goal of the preceptor program is to show students the relationship of a dental practice and the community where it is located. Students see how socioeconomic factors and community resources can affect patient care, and how they as health care providers can serve the community.

That community relationship is exactly what students witness when they visit preceptor Dr. René Rosas in El Paso, Texas. His four community clinics hosted 12 HSC-BCD students last summer.

“The students you send us are ladies and gentlemen,” Rosas says. “They’re very qualified; they’re very sensitive to our population. They roll up their sleeves and work.”

In turn, the students benefit from the experience. Students who visit Rosas always rave about their experience, and his preceptor positions are the first to fill, says Dr. Daniel Jones, professor and chair of public health sciences.

Preceptorships in private practices also help students observe and learn dental practice management such as office administration and practice philosophy. The students may treat patients, but often it’s the business management aspects that are most beneficial.

“I don’t want to show a lot of dentistry; Baylor produces great clinicians,” Herrington says. “I want to show how an office works and where that person will fit into dentistry.”

Last year 73 students participated in the preceptor program. Bartlett says enrollment is already underway for this summer.

Preceptor Group