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AHCFP to welcome new fellows on Jan. 14, 2022

Published: June 30, 2021 by Bradi Zapata

AHCFP residents engage in hands-on learning during the 2019 program.
Academic Health Careers Fellowship Program fellows engage in hands-on learning during the 2019 program.
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Register and find more information about the Academic Health Careers Fellowship Program at Go.uth.edu/AHCFP.

On Jan. 14, 2022, the third installment of the Academic Health Careers Fellowship Program (AHCFP) will kick off with a hybrid in-person, virtual program. Just 10 fellows will have the opportunity to participate in the four-month, professional development program, which is designed to mentor clinical practitioners about academia. 

Hosted by the School of Dentistry’s PACE Center and the Office of Professional Development and Faculty Affairs, AHCFP introduces dental practitioners to the current reality of a career in academia. Fellows observe student-teaching in a clinical setting, conduct research, connect with a UTSD faculty mentor, and present a scholarly capstone project.  

A first of its kind, the 2022 program is slated to evoke a different level of excitement to the incoming cohort, through a combined-learning experience. The program structure allows for interactive, virtual classes and in-person, hands-on engagements, which will collectively implement a healthy, effective work-life balance.

Not sure about these brackets?“[During the 2020 program, I managed roles] as a wife; a mom of three children; a graduate research assistant; an AHCFP fellow; and a student at the UTHealth School of Public Health,” said Kawtar Zouaidi, DMD. “Juggling those tasks was challenging, even before COVID-19, but with the stay-at-home and work-from-home orders, it seemed impossible to deal with all of these roles.”

The program trajectory was significantly altered in 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. What began as an in-person, clinical-focus program shifted virtual with a heavy focus on individualized mentorship. The timeline was also reduced from six to four months, which turned out to be a welcomed transition.

In 2022, the directors chose to leave the length of the program as four-months to support a work-life balance, appease financial costs, and adapt to the new role of virtual learning.

“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has given a big stimulus to technology,” Zouaidi said. “During the fellowship, we talked a lot about how Generation Z was born in the late 90s technological era and are very tech-savvy. We need to adapt our teaching to this generation, because traditional lectures in classroom settings aren’t what they’re looking for. The pandemic gave us a big picture of how teaching will evolve in the upcoming years.”

Program directors Harold Henson, RDH, PhD; Carolyn Huynh, DDS, MEd, EdD; and Lisa D. Cain, PhD, ensure the fellows leave the program feeling ready and confident to tackle their career in academia, virtually and in-person.

“This program is kind of like a test drive before private practitioners change their careers to academia,” said Co-Director Harold Henson, RDH, PhD, associate professor, and director of UTSD’s Center for Teaching and Learning. “In order to excel, I think you really have to be passionate about teaching, and this program provides that overview.”

Anyone interested in attending the program is encouraged to attend a virtual information session, offered at noon Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, and at noon Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. These sessions are free, but RSVP is required to PACE@uth.tmc.edu.

“As someone whose only experience was being a student, there's a huge void between knowing what it takes to be an educator and doing it,” said fellow Elizabeth Boyd, RDH, BSDH. “I think there's a misconception that if you're tired of your career you can just teach, but it’s not that easy. This program was extremely helpful in teaching me what it would mean to shift gears and actually pursue a teaching position.” 

Additionally, an added benefit is that during the program, participants will be able to observe and attend seasonal activities such as retreats, curriculum/faculty development committee meetings, departmental meetings, annual endowed lectureships, and receive continuing dental education programs at faculty pricing.

Applications are due Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. The application requires submission of a resume or cover letter, official copy of dental school diploma, educational credential evaluators course, a professional letter of recommendation, health records from a professional, a copy of current CPR certification, a photocopy for US citizens, and a US permanent resident card. Non-US residents also require a passport ID page, visa stamp, and an I-9.

Find more information regarding pricing, application details, the program schedule, etc. at Go.uth.edu/AHCFP.

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