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Dr. Lorel E. Burns Part II: The ADEA Leadership Institute, Endo Education, and the Foundation

Dr. Lorel E. Burns, DDS, MS, is the recipient of the 2023-2024 AAE Foundation & Specialty1 Partners/ADEA Scholar for the ADEA Leadership Institute award. 

The Foundation had the honor of speaking with Dr. Burns, who shared how she has ventured down various paths to create a multifaceted and service-oriented career in endodontics and academia, embracing the pillars of scholarship, teaching, and service. Part I from our conversation was featured in the Foundation’s July eNewsletter.

Part II: The ADEA Leadership Institute, Endo Education, and the Foundation

Q: How did you first get involved with the Foundation and how has it been beneficial to you? 

A: I first became engaged with the Foundation when I applied for the Endodontic Educator Fellowship. At that time, it was clear to me that the Foundation was there to support educators, and that it was going to be a resource for the things that I wanted to do throughout my career in academia. I’ve been so grateful for the support I’ve received through the Educator Fellowship, and that’s what first introduced me to the Foundation and opened my eyes to the many facets of support.  

I saw the opportunity to become involved with the ADEA Leadership Institute, and there is some truth that if you want to exceed in dental education, you’ve got to do this program. You’ll learn so much. You’ll meet so many people who are also taking their pursuit of dental education seriously. It has been great to meet people from other schools and at other stages in their career and learn from them. 

I was eager to apply, and I’m thrilled to have the support of the Foundation. It’s a learning commitment and it’s expensive. So, the support of the Foundation makes it feasible. I knew that I was going to be my district representative on the AAE Board of Directors, and I wanted to have some of that training to help me fulfill early in the program. It is a one year program, divided into four phases. We just finished Phase I, and I can already see how that what I’m learning is going to benefit the work that I do with the AAE.

I don’t even want to ask the Foundation for anything else, but my take-away is that it is there to support people who are committed to furthering the profession and to giving back – whether it’s through teaching, research, or service to patients in disadvantaged, underserved populations. I view the Foundation as this amazing giving resource, which helps advance the specialty forward!

It’s not just about being a better teacher, it’s about being a better leader. 

Q: What advice you would impart to residents who might be interested in teaching?  

A: I would say that if you’re interested in teaching, don’t write off a full-time commitment. Take the time to really explore it. I think one of the turn-offs to pursuing full-time academia is the perceived discrepancy in salary, but there is so much more than the financial compensation and there are ways to still engage in private practice.

I’m still in private practice despite being committed to full-time academia, and it is so very fulfilling. It allows you to serve your patients and serve the profession in ways beyond the clinic interaction. I tell my students who consider academia that it’s more than just the sticker price.

I view myself as an academic and seriously embrace the pillars of scholarship, teaching, and service. I try to engage in all those pillars. Most of my time in academia has been focused on research, as mandated by grant funding, and in trying to establish my specific expertise and niche within the profession. The ability to be engaged in scholarship and learning with my students as part of a paid job is awesome! Having a large part of my formal role engaging in service is one of the things that keeps me in academia.


Dr. Lorel Burns is a full-time endodontic educator at NYU School of Dentistry. She lives in New York City, right in Manhattan. She and her husband love to explore the food scene, and she stays an active member of her neighborhood community garden.