Originally published by UMMC on Thursday, May 12, 2016
For Dr. Jennifer Bain, assistant professor and interim department chair of periodontics and preventive sciences in the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, teaching is about maximizing her ability to reach people and touch lives.
“Any given year, I teach about 150 students,” said Bain. “If 30 of those go into private practice, I can reach more people. It’s rewarding. I’m a passionate person, and I really enjoy seeing someone else develop a love for something I love.”
With this approach, it’s no wonder Bain has been the recipient of so many awards in her comparatively short teaching career. Bain was appointed to the position in the School of Dentistry in 2014, was awarded an American Academy of Periodontology Foundation teaching fellowship, took home the Hembree Honor Society D3 full-time clinical faculty all-star award and the D4 full-time clinical professor of the year in 2015, and earned the society’s D2 clinical science professor of the year in 2016.
On Monday the 2009 dental school graduate was chosen to receive the 2016 Regions Bank TEACH (Toward Educational Advancement in Care and Health) Prize.
The TEACH Prize celebrates the highest qualities of the Medical Center’s teaching faculty and is chosen from the inductees to the Norman C. Nelson Order of Teaching Excellence each year. The winner receives a cash award of $10,000 and recognition at the luncheon honoring Nelson Order inductees.
This year’s is the first induction of the Nelson Order since the recent passing of its namesake, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine from 1973-1994, Dr. Norman Crooks Nelson. Nelson was not only the longest-serving leader in the history of UMMC, he had a reputation for being a master teacher.
Attending the luncheon were representatives from Regions Bank, including Alon Bee, Regions Bank city president for metro Jackson, who presented the award to Bain.
“The Regions Bank TEACH Prize is one of my favorite events that Regions sponsors each year,” said Bee. “It is an honor for me to participate in recognizing a distinguished faculty member at UMMC who has made an impact in the classroom, as well as the health-care community.”
Seven years ago, Bain was chosen from her graduating class to represent the school in a collection of graduate stories. The Magee native was quoted in the CenterView publication saying, “I knew I had to put in an effort, because nothing’s given to you.”
As a student, Bain became “the most prolific student-researcher in dental school.” It appears she is putting in even more effort as a teacher.
Responsible for redesigning the periodontal curriculum, Bain integrated basic and clinical teaching into the coursework. First-year dental students are now introduced to the clinical application behind the science they are learning.
Bain said that her teaching philosophy is driven by the Chinese Proverb which says, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
“I feel that in order for students to not only remember but understand, they must be actively engaged in the content,” said Bain. “In a world with increasing complexity of care and science, we must teach in new ways, linking new science to diagnoses and treatments.”
Hearing from her students, this philosophy works.
“What she’s taught us in the classroom has been above and beyond what I would expect for a first-year dental student,” said D1 Andrew Morgan. “I had no idea I’d learn so much. She integrated into the clinical aspect a real-world application of why the science matters.”
Morgan said that although Bain challenged the students and asked a lot of them, she provided the tools they would need “to complete the tasks and to be one step closer to being able to treat the patient.”
Bain takes the responsibility of training Mississippi’s future oral-health-care providers very seriously.
“The knowledge and skills we impart affect not just the students themselves but the health of their future patients,” said Bain. “I cannot merely teach information and hope they ‘get it.’ I have to somehow ensure it.”
Bain is the first faculty from the School of Dentistry to be awarded the TEACH Prize, which was first awarded in 2013.
“We are incredibly proud,” said Dr. David Felton, dean of the dental school. “Dr. Bain is a gifted teacher and a great innovator, adapting emerging teaching methodologies into the classroom. She epitomizes excellence in academics. Her novel, evidence-based approach to teaching periodontics, her research background and experience, along with her clinical expertise in periodontal surgery and the surgical placement of dental implants, make her the true ‘triple threat’ faculty.”
For Bain, the prize offers a sense of validation as a professor.
“I work really hard, from the time I get here in the morning until I leave campus after six. At home, I have family time then I work until late at night on lecture prep. Winning the TEACH Prize lets me know that others see and appreciate my efforts.”