The Summer Student Practitioner Program Experience—Student and Mentor Comments

Spring 2016

The Summer Student Practitioner Program (SSPP) matches dentists with students between third and fourth year for two to six weeks during summer. This gives the student an opportunity to be part of the day-to-day operation and management of a dental practice. Valuable experience indeed before they start their final year of dental school. Participating dentists enjoy both working with future colleagues and testing the “fit” of a potential associate.

In the summer of 2015, 41 students were paired with 63 dentist mentors in 33 locations. At the end of the summer, comments and feedback was gathered from both groups. Read on to find out what some of them wrote about their experience.

Student feedback

On supervision and role modelling of mentors

“It was good to see different styles of dentistry, as well as seeing what we’ve learned being reinforced.”

— Don Beeson, DMD 2016 candidate

“My mentor was an amazing supervisor and role model. I was extremely grateful for his guidance and input. He checked every procedure that I did and was happy to help me if I ended up overwhelmed or unsure in a step.”

— Fiona Roth, DMD 2014 candidate

On clinical and other procedures

“Felt very good about the amount and types of clinical procedures I was able to do. I was worried patients wouldn’t want a student working on them, but many were more than happy to have me do so.”

— Don Beeson, DMD 2016 candidate

“I love that my mentors started me off slowly, giving me several hours to do one-surface fillings at the start. This helped me get more comfortable in the new clinic, learn where things were and reduce my stress. When I was ready for more challenging and fast-paced work, my mentors were accommodating and gave me as much work as I thought I could handle.”

— Amanda Campbell, DMD 2016 candidate

“I left [the dental office] every day with my head almost spinning with how much I had learned that day. It was a great chance to see that there are multiple ways to obtain the same result. You have to find which technique you can master best in order to provide the best care for the patient. There are tons of new materials, tools, equipment and techniques. Even if I didn’t do or use them, I got to learn about them and see some of them in action. It was a huge realization to me that school provides a solid foundation for you to understand all that’s out in the real world, but it’s up to you to explore it all and choose what works best for you.”

—Kevin Urness, DMD 2014 candidate

On the best part of SSPP

“Learning what they [the dentist mentor] did after dental school, how they do procedures, what types of continuing education they would choose, and how they would redo things if they were starting fresh again. This was very valuable.”

— Don Beeson, DMD 2016 candidate

“The best part of SSPP was seeing what a practice is like in the real world. It was so nice to be outside of an academic setting and practise dentistry—I became more excited about going into the profession.”

— Jaclyn Brash, DMD 2016 candidate

“The best part was just getting comfortable doing some basic work and becoming less afraid to cut a tooth. It was great to see dentistry in a new context. I probably did more in two or three days at the clinic than in all of third year at UBC.”

— Fiona Roth, DMD 2014 candidate

“You see the challenges that arise in a private clinic, and I got a great view into the business side of the practice. My mentor was great at showing me the importance of knowing how to do every procedure in the clinic —from turning on the lights and computers, to ordering supplies, to cleaning teeth and sterilizing, to the intricate procedures—as you are the one ultimately responsible for them and for teaching the other members [of the practice team] how you expect them to be done. I saw the beautiful opportunity that dentistry provides, where you can create the office atmosphere you want, and it was positive, joyful and community oriented. From birthday lunches to jokes in the morning, we have the ability to create a workplace that we want to go to every day! I left SSPP feeling confident in my career choice.”

— Kevin Urness, DMD 2014 candidate

Other comments

“I feel like I got in twice the dentistry I did in third year—at least that much.”

— Don Beeson, DMD 2016 candidate

“I really wish it could be guaranteed that every student get a spot in SSPP. It was more useful to my education than I expected.”

— Fiona Roth, DMD 2014 candidate

“I’ve learned a ton and made a lifelong mentor who I will never hesitate to bounce ideas off. Keep the program going! In hindsight, it’s one of the highlights of UBC Dentistry. If I had to go back in time and choose between all dental schools, the SSPP program would be one of the main advantages of attending UBC.”

—Kevin Urness, DMD 2014 candidate

Mentor feedback

On the student mentees

“The best. Eager to learn, listened and tried unfamiliar techniques in a strange environment with instruments that he was not used to.

— Dr. Gerry Dyck, Williams Lake, BC

On the best part of SSPP for you and your office

“It makes ‘the old dog’ feel like a pup again. I feed on their enthusiasm.”

— Dr. Gerry Dyck, Williams Lake, BC

“It reminds my staff that there is always room to provide compassionate mentoring to all colleagues.”

—Dr. Chris Bryant, Sooke, BC

“Fresh ideas and enthusiasm.”

—Dr. Dave Burwash, Cranbrook, BC

“Interesting to hear what is being taught at UBC and have someone excited about the profession.”

—Dr. David Maycher, Vancouver, BC

On adjusting schedules and roles to accommodate a student

“I put in a new chair based upon need/experience from previous years.”

— Dr. Chris Bryant, Sooke, BC

Other comments

“A very worthwhile program.”

—Dr. Dave Burwash, Cranbrook, BC

“A fantastic program; we have loved all our students. Real-world experience is so beneficial. Every dentist should be doing this!”

—Dr. Gerry Dyck, Williams Lake, BC

Bring Another to Practice

Dentist mentors are needed for the Summer Student Practitioner Program. The success of the program has an ironic twist: each time an SSPP mentor recruits their summer student practitioner as an associate, a potential mentor for the subsequent summer is lost. And generally, there are more dental students interested in the SSPP than available mentors. So the program always needs to recruit new SSPP mentors. Bringing a student into your practice during summer is a simple process; a few clicks is all it takes to get started. For more information about the Summer Student Practitioner Program and to facilitate student matches, visit