Friday, March 25, 2016

Does Dental School Owe You a Job?

Several years ago, I was asked to serve on an advisory committee for a local dental assisting school. I happily agreed to offer whatever advice I could give.

My only responsibility was to attend a meeting twice a year. The purpose was for me, along with a handful of other dentists, to advise the school on what real-world job skills graduating dental assistants need in order to succeed. This helped the school tailor its curriculum in order to prepare their students with real-world life skills.

During our meetings, the officials from the school informed us that they had a job-placement rate of more than 80 percent within the first six months after graduation. I was impressed, to say the least.

The name of the school? Everest College, a subsidiary of Corinthian Colleges Inc. You may have heard about Corinthian Colleges Inc.’s bankruptcy in the news last year. There were many reasons for the bankruptcy, but to put it simply, it was partly due to overreporting placement rates among its graduates.

As the events unfolded in the news, I could not help but wonder: “Could the same thing happen with dental schools?” In my area, I’ve seen several dental hygiene schools open over the past few years. The result? I get resumes from new hygienists on a weekly basis. I ask them, and they tell me the job market is brutal for new hygienists.

With more dental schools opening, I begin to wonder if dental students could face the same fate.

As I see it, the main purpose of dental schools is to produce dentists — not necessarily employed dentists. Once a new dentist graduates, the school chalks that up as a success. You’ve heard the spiels: “Ninety percent of our graduates pass the boards,” “Many of our graduates go on to advanced studies,” etc. That is great, but does any of that translate to a financially rewarding career as a dentist?

With dental education costing as much as a several hundred thousands of dollars, I believe the majority of dental students aren’t doing this as a hobby. They attend dental school as in investment in their future. Most of us do, for that matter.

So does a dental assisting school owe their students a job? Hygiene school? How about dental school?

Considering most students have to take out loans in order to pay for their education, my answer is yes.

The dental hygiene schools in my area charge a lot of money for tuition. When pre-hygiene students ask me if it’s worth it, I stumble to find an answer. The same with pre-dental students.

Would you go to dental school if after completing your studies you could not find decent employment? Does dental school owe you a job?

Andy Alas, DDS



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