Interview with a Preceptor


Dr. Ben Lashley, North Platte, Neb.

For over thirty years, the College of Dentistry has been sending fourth-year dental students into established dental practices with a preceptor - a professional dentist who acts as a mentor and directs students in their practice - for firsthand experience in running a private practice.

Dr. Ben Lashley, a UNMC College of Dentistry alum, has served as a preceptor for many years. He owns Maple Park Associates in North Platte, Neb. Dr. Lashley grew up in North Platte and received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his DDS degree from the UNMC College of Dentistry in 1999. Dr. Lashley has been in private practice in North Platte for 21 years. His special interests include oral surgery, sedation and implants.

Why did you decide to be a preceptor?
When I was a student at UNMC, I had a great experience during my extramural rotation with Dr. Mike Bryson in Kearney, Neb. I learned at an accelerated rate and the real-world experience helped me better understand the knowledge and skills I learned at the college. I wanted to provide dental students the same type of experience and teach them things that they can apply to their own practices, including how a dental office operates and how to perform different procedures efficiently.

What have been some of your most rewarding experiences thus far as a preceptor?
Many of my students have gone on to their own private practices and they still call me with questions. Those strong relationships built on trust are very rewarding. Some of my students have chosen their dental career paths because of their experiences with me. In fact, two of my current partners, Dr. Daniel Woodburn and Dr. David Perry, did their extramural rotations here, as well as one of our team members, Dr. Lindsey Petersen.

What are some of the things you taught your most recent student?
My student had a hands-on experience learning how to run a practice and assisting me in certain procedures. She had a great experience and will be coming back to work with us.

What are some of the qualities you’ve seen in your students that will most help them become extraordinary oral health care providers?
Preparedness and an understanding of what’s going on. My students have understood processes and procedures even if they’re seeing them for the first time. Additionally, the students who have gotten the most out of their extramural rotations have asked good questions and been eager to jump in and engage quickly.

How, and how often, do you give your students constructive feedback?
I regularly give my students feedback. We talk about what we’ve accomplished, and I hope that by having them share in accomplishments, that helps lead them to their own success.

What have your students taught you?
Being a mentor motivates me to make sure I know what I’m doing - that I’m keeping up on my continuing education and keeping my own skills sharp.

How do your students benefit your practice?
Four of the students I’ve mentored have come back and joined my practice, so being a preceptor has had a significant impact on my practice’s growth. I’ve been able to build relationships with students who have an interest in practicing in western Nebraska and help them discover that rural Nebraska has a wealth of opportunities.

How do your patients react to having students at your practice?
Our patients enjoy talking with the students. Our patients see that UNMC trusts us to help further the students’ education, so that sends a very good message and helps our patients build more trust in us.

What advice do you have for students in terms of making the most of their extramural rotations?
Be open minded and look at your extramural rotation as an opportunity to understand how you want to practice and what changes you would make. It’s also a good opportunity to improve your communication skills and see what it would be like to practice in a rural community.

What advice do you have for other oral health professionals who would like to become preceptors?
I encourage anyone to consider becoming a preceptor! It’s an extremely rewarding experience, gives you the opportunity to participate in educating today’s students, and allows you to build relationships that can help grow your practice.