10 Under 10: Dr. Tim Treat
Growing up in Northern Indiana, Dr. Tim Treat looked to his father and grandfather as role models. Both owned small businesses and were seen as leaders in their community.
But Dr. Treat also wanted to help people and as he grew to know his dentist, he started thinking of a career in dentistry as a way to satisfy that calling while still growing into community leadership.
The plan was to move into private practice after dental school. But a residency at the Veteran’s Affairs hospital in Indianapolis and the discovery of the American Dental Education Association as a student set him working toward more holistic change.
“(The VA hospital) is a valuable place to learn about dentistry and health care in general, what potential we have if we do interdisciplinary or interprofessional education,” Dr. Treat said. “We can improve overall care … it’s something we haven’t gotten into in our general practice of dentistry yet but there’s a big movement toward that in the academic community, interprofessional education and collaboration.”
Dr. Treat’s early involvement with ADEA was through the council of students but he saw early on that chapters weren’t all organized and some were inactive. In part because of his work, most North American schools have their own chapter now – places where students can have informal discussions, where students could learn about the benefits of careers academia.
“I wanted to be a general dentist and do a general practice residency and return to faculty right away. That itself isn’t a typical pathway for dentists on faculties but it should be, in my view,” Dr. Treat said. “When I became one of the leaders of the ADEA Council of Students and later on the board representing the council of students, I made it my mission to build out infrastructure that would get more students around the country thinking about careers in dental education and being able to see themselves in dental education.”
After his VA residency, Dr. Treat returned to faculty at the Indiana University School of Dentistry for a full time clinical fellowship, where he’s also back in school for his master’s degree in public health with a concentration in health policy management.
It’s not a typical career path for a dentist, he admits, but he’s not looking for a typical career in dentistry.
“There’s this big systemic impact that could be made by being in academic dentistry and combining that with being involved with health policy through the American Dental Association and through (the American Dental Education Association) but also through academic work with the university,” Dr. Treat said.
Dr. Treat works in private practice two days per week plus some Saturdays while maintaining his faculty position.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount about direct patient care, and it’s made me a better educator as well as more in tune with health policy issues,” he said. “I’m in an academic health center but also in the private care delivery sector at the same time.”
Dr. Treat is a recipient of the 2018 10 Under 10 award. Read more about the award at ADA.org/10under10.