Oral Health Next Gen

NYU Dentistry Dental Student Leadership Institute Selects Inaugural Class

New Program Aims to Develop Future Leaders for the Profession

Recognizing that dentistry and oral health face challenges and opportunities that will require exceptional leadership as we move forward in the 21st century, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is prioritizing the development of DDS students to become future leaders for the profession. In recognition of this need, the College has launched the NYU Dentistry Dental Student Leadership Institute (DDSLI), which provides a formal structure for students seeking a special focus on leadership to enrich their dental student experience and their future careers.

“Because the rigorous curriculum for dental students focuses predominantly on basic science and clinical care, most learn little about the complexity of the dental and general health care systems—leaving a gap in qualified candidates for faculty and dental leadership positions,” said Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, the Herman Robert Fox Dean of NYU Dentistry. “Fostering new leaders in dentistry is of importance to our profession and the oral health of our global community and we are pleased to welcome the first cohort of students to the DDSLI,” he added.

The DDSLI aims to develop the next generation of policy-oriented leaders for the dental and related health care professions through creating new leadership programming and courses. It is a three-year program comprised of seminars, workshops, internships, shadowing of leaders, mentoring, and leadership roles. Annually, up to 35 first-year (D1) students will be selected to participate.

Following a highly competitive application process that opened on March 1, 2022, 19 D1 dental students were selected to participate in the DDSLI’s inaugural class. The accepted students will participate in an orientation weekend at an offsite venue in Connecticut in early June, after which the program will focus on the following major themes in their subsequent years of dental school:

  • D2: Managing Complexity
  • D3: Leading the Way for 21st Century Oral Health
  • D4: Collaborative Leadership for Evolving Health Care

Additional experiences will include annual capstone projects focusing on these themes, a class leadership project, and a mentorship program throughout all three years that will help students expand their awareness of the importance of mentorship and enable them to become mentors themselves. DDSLI graduates will receive a certificate and be recognized at graduation for their leadership activities. There is no additional cost for students who are selected for admission to the DDSLI.

The DDSLI will strive to develop adaptive leaders who are prepared to perform in uncertain environments in the future using a differentiating character-based model of leadership, one that develops leadership habits and attitudes that aim for human flourishing in organizations, communities, and society. The DDSLI is dedicated specifically to developing future leaders for the dental profession in academics, the practice sector, oral health policy, and industry.

According to Richard Valachovic, DMD, MPH, clinical professor and director of the NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management, which administers the DDSLI, “We believe that this institutional framework will provide NYU Dentistry students with a unique and deeply personal approach to the realm of leadership.” Dr. Valachovic, who is president emeritus of the American Dental Education Association, leads the DDSLI in collaboration with Karl Haden, PhD, coauthor of The 9 Virtues of Exceptional Leaders: Unlocking Your Leadership Potential, and founder and CEO of the Academy for Academic Leadership. “Our vision,” added Dr. Valachovic, “is to become the premier program for student leadership education in academic dentistry, with DDSLI alumni recognized as leaders in dental education, organized dentistry, public health, corporate dentistry, and collaboration with other health care professions.”