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Dental School Does Not Make the Dentist

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.

Dental School Does Not Make the Dentist
San Francisco, CA, February 25, 2008 --( Are graduates of dental school ready for the reality of practicing dentistry? Four out of 5 dentists don't think so, according to a survey by The Wealthy Dentist, citing a lack of business savvy and little knowledge of dental practice management.

Many feel that dental school must also fill the role of business school. "Dental school needs really good business courses to help students get started in practice, even if they are going into an employment situation," opined a Tennessee 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?"

Though dentistry has advanced rapidly, it's not clear that dental education has followed. "It has not changed enough in at least the last 25 years. Clinically, dental students have just enough knowledge and experience to provide basic care and hopefully will understand that they need to continue to learn and develop their capabilities," wrote an Illinois dentist. "There should be some basic business requirement in the pre-dental education, but I don't see that there is room in dental school to cover this (running a business) in any but the most cursory way."

Just because a student does well in dental school does not mean she or he will be a good practitioner. "Dental schools have routinely produced graduates that fully believe that they know a great deal more than they really know. They are definitely not ready for private practice," commented a Maryland dentist. "Young dentists I work with have trouble with diagnosis and treatment planning," agreed a Delaware periodontist.

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 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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The Wealthy Dentist
Jim Du Molin

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