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Faculty Affairs

Pathways for Pre-doctoral Students at the School of Dentistry

The UM SoD Pathways Program is a required supplement to the DDS curriculum. This four-year program is designed to give students the flexibility to investigate areas of their choosing within oral health care. These investigations will occur in the student's choice of three Paths (Health Care Delivery, Research, and Leadership) and within a variety of locations (school clinics, working offices, satellite clinics, laboratories, etc). Students will also become proficient in articulating their experiences through written and oral reports. In some cases, projects might qualify for publication in peer-reviewed journals or presentation at national conferences. Above all, the Pathways Program expects students to develop professional autonomy by playing the active role in determining the content of this extended learning opportunity.

Faculty members have two main roles as part of the Pathways program; they serve as “Guides” and “Mentors”.   Guides and mentors have very distinct roles and they differ in that guides are “assigned” and mentors are “chosen”. "Guides" don't directly supervise or grade students, but rather provide a collegial point of contact for the student to the school and the profession. Guides can help students contemplate broad project ideas, find a mentor, and, if necessary, find the resources they need during times of difficulty. All full-time UM SoD faculty members have a responsibility to serve as guides. Each faculty member serves as a guide to an average of one student per dental school class. Guides are assigned by the Dean’s office to students at the beginning of the D1 year and meet with their students once a semester for all four years.  The guides' areas of expertise may or may not match the students' area of focus.

"Project mentors," on the other hand, work with students only for the duration of the project. Mentors may be full-time faculty or part-time faculty members, or may, with approval, be non-faculty individuals outside the school of dentistry. They help the student refine the project plan, define project tasks, check that the timeline is being met, and ultimately assess the quality of the final project. Mentors need specific expertise in the focus of the students' projects.

Faculty should generally expect to guide four students (one each in the D1-D4 classes) and mentor 1-3 students at any given time. Student progress is tracked through electronic portfolio software called Foliotek. More information on the Pathways program, with specific instruction on how to be a guide or mentor and Foliotek instructions, is available at

Director of Pathways Program
Dr. Tracy de Peralta

Health Care Delivery Pathway Director
Dr. Howard Hamerink

Health Care Delivery Pathway Co-Director
Dr. John Hamerink

Leadership Pathway Director
Dr. Domenica Sweier

Leadership Pathway Co-Director
Dr. Mark Pinsky

Research Pathway Director
Dr. Dan Chiego

Research Pathway Co-Director

Pathways Staff
Charlene Erickson- Research and Leadership
Becky Flynn- Health Care Delivery

updated 1/27/16