Pros and Cons of Dental Residency

Pros of Dental Residency

  • Dental residency programs provide an extra year of exposure for students who have not had exposure to many procedures (eg: more chances to complete molar endo in certain programs, exposure to implant placement in some programs).
  • Students in dental school have historically had 2-4 hours to do a single procedure. In residency, residents have less time per appointment. This gives them the chance to increase their speed with little risk (with the assurance of their attending being able to “bail them out”).
  • Dental residency can help students get accepted into specialty programs if the student graduates from a residency that is specialty procedure-focused.
  • In general practice residency, students can meet specialty residents and attendings within their same hospital and potentially obtain an advantage in applying to that specialty program.
  • If planning to work in New York State, 1 year of dental residency is a shorter time commitment than 2 years of working out of state for reciprocity as a pathway for initial NYS licensure. Often it is also a shorter day-to-day commute within the state if the applicant lives in NYC.
  • If a student does not pass the CDCA-ADEX exam, he or she can opt to complete 1 year of NYS dental residency program to obtain a license to work in NYS. After that, he or she might be able to obtain reciprocity in some states after a few years without taking that exam. (Check individual state guidelines for licensure by endorsement on Class Two licensing page).
  • Save money on malpractice insurance for 1 year in residency program. Resident will be working under the program’s malpractice and the attending doctor’s license. This gives the resident legal protection while he or she has still not achieved 100% comfort with procedures.
  • Residents in hospitals have exposure to diverse patient populations. This exposure serves as an exercise for the resident in providing culturally-sensitive comprehensive care.

Cons of Dental Residency

  • In private practice an individual makes at least $500 a day ($120k). In residency the resident is making maximum $60k pre-tax (which will barely cover the cost of rent). AEGD pays less than GPR usually. Rewarding to be making money in a tough economy instead of basically training for free.
  • You run the risk of “sitting around” unless accepted into a very busy dental residency. There are multiple accounts of people “playing cards” while on their shifts.
  • Majority of GPR programs require students to be on “call” and sleep at hospital over certain weekends (work-life balance suffers).
  • The time given for procedures still does not replicate private practice. Practitioners still must develop speed between residency and private practice.
  • Many dental residency programs are trauma-focused (e.g., soft tissue lacerations, suturing, extractions). Practitioners perform little general dentistry outside of emergency procedures.
    • AEGD performs more general dentistry procedures but environment of AEGD is more similar to dental school and pays significantly less.
  • New York and Delaware are the only states that mandate 1 year of residency prior to working in the state. This is if an individual does not wish to work out of state first to obtain reciprocity.
  • Most of the procedures taught in residency are equally learnable through continuing education courses or moonlighting/shadowing.
  • An individual may learn bad habits that are a part of a GPR/AEGD program’s culture.
  • Many techniques and materials at programs are not the current ones that would be used in practice. “Cutting corners” is generally expected in these programs.
  • It is difficult to change residency programs if not a good fit, but it is easy to find another job. Many more jobs are available than dental residency programs.
  • Develop an understanding of what type of office you want to work in simply by working in different offices. A dental residency program will not offer this perspective to an individual at all.
  • There is no guarantee of mentorship in a residency program. An individual still has to “go out there” and find a mentor for themselves.

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