Dental School Only Half a Dentist’s Education


Dentists are not impressed with the education provided by dental schools, according to a recent Wealthy Dentist survey. Four out of five dentists report finding that recent graduates are not prepared for the financial realities of practicing dentistry. These days, business skills are an important part of dental practice management.

Romance among Dental CoworkersFebruary 25, 2008 (San Francisco, California) – Four out of five dentists do not think dental school graduates are prepared for the real world of dentistry, according to a recent Wealthy Dentist survey. Only one in five dentists finds recent graduates truly ready for the financial realities of practicing

Many feel that dental school must also fill the role of business school. "Most dental schools are giving some instruction in the economics of practicing dentistry, but it only scratches the surface," said an Indiana periodontist. "Schools need extensive realistic practice management curriculum," agreed a Massachusetts dentist.

But is business training really within the scope of dental school? "Today’s graduates are not prepared to start a business, but neither were we. Business sense is hard to get in a classroom setting," observed a North Carolina dentist. "It’s like preparing for parenting: how do you know when you’re ready?"

Some feel dental schools are failing to keep up with the times. "Dental schools are trapped in a time warp continuing to use the 20th century curriculum to educate practitioners of the 21st century," commented a New York oral surgeon. "Technology has certainly changed. Teaching and preparing has definitely not improved, or even changed," said a Florida dentist.

Doing well in dental school is no guarantee that a student will become a good clinician. "Dental school prepares you for your board exams, not the real world of dentistry," commented a New Jersey dentist. "Academically graduates are over-prepared, and clinically they tend to be under-prepared," agreed a general dentist from Missouri.

Of course, some feel that dental schools provide an excellent education. "Dental school has tried to address issues of practice management, dental insurance issues, and advanced restorative techniques including implants and periodontal surgery," said a Pennsylvania periodontist.

One Michigan dentist reported being disappointed by his young associates. "I have gone through a few associates. I have a high-tech, high-end practice, and I try to show them all the tricks. They are not only clueless, but they don’t even try – poor confidence level out of school. They want to make the money but they don’t want to work the hours or try to learn the communication and practical skills that today’s public demands… I think that in the future I’m going to charge a training fee!"

"Dental school has never prepared students for the real world, but now the consequences for new graduates are a lot more serious," commented one orthodontist. "In past years, overhead was lower, patients and employees weren’t as litigious, fewer employees were needed, regulations were simpler, etc. Today, the system is not as forgiving. There is so much more to be aware of, and a slipup is going to be more costly."

"Dental schools might be great, but they’re notoriously bad at addressing business issues," said Jim Du Molin, dental management consultant and founder of The Wealthy Dentist. "Students learn lots of science and very little about practice management. But how can graduates expect to practice dentistry if they can’t run a dental practice?"


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