I’m a little late on this post, but wanted to reflect a bit on how big of a year 2017 was for orthodontics. Especially in the world of clear aligners. Back in October, Invisalign had a number of their patents expire, thereby ceding part of their long-held monopoly on clear aligners. And by the end of December, Align Technology — the parent company that owns Invisalign — had the top-performing stock among S&P 500 companies. Yes, you read that right. Take that, finance, tech, and med friends! A dental company was on top of the stock market in 2017.
My residency program held our annual interviews for the newest batch of residents just last month in September. As a residency program that does not participate in the match, we tend to interview applicants on the earlier end of the interview trail. This is similar to what other non-match programs do. In any event, I was asked to give a short, 10-15 minute presentation to the interviewees on a topic of my choosing that would show them what our program has to offer. My topic? Finances during residency.
Two new dental schools are set to open in the United States. One in New York, and the other in Texas. Combined, those two states already have 7 dental schools. While there are currently 66 dental schools in the US, 14 states do not have any dental schools. In fact, as previously discussed, more dental schools are opening every year at a rapid pace. Let’s take a closer look at all the new schools across the nation.
Back when I was applying to dental school, there were only fifty-something dental schools across the nation. Today, there are currently 66 dental schools in the US with a few more set to open their doors the next couple of years. And yes, I’m still in my 20s. While a number of these schools were strategically founded to address unmet dental needs in large swaths of the country, many believe that more can be done on this front than simply increasing the number of graduating dentists every year (future post!). The fact of the matter is, more dental schools are opening every year, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Just ask the dentists in Utah.
If someone offered you a spot at residency program A at no cost, and a spot at residency program B with a $400K signing bonus, which would you choose? The answer is obvious. What’s the catch? Both residency programs are the same duration. Both programs are located in the same state. Both programs are located in the same city. You will become a full-fledged specialist coming out of either accredited program. There is no catch. For any medical resident, this is an absolute no-brainer. Then why are some dental residents still choosing residency program A?
As a resident, malpractice insurance probably isn’t at the top of your list of things to worry about. After all, we’re generally covered by the programs and hospitals we practice in during our training. Unlike our medical counterparts, who after finishing residency will typically have their premiums paid for by their new employer, the majority of dental residents and dentists will have to purchase their own malpractice coverage in solo practice as independent contractors or associates. Here are some of the things I’ve learned about malpractice insurance over the past year.
Insuring your income by purchasing a personal disability insurance (DI) policy is one of the first steps in anyone’s financial plan. Our income supports our lifestyle, investments, well-being, and families. Without it, we have few options as our new occupation will presumably provide significantly less income in the event that we become sick or hurt. When you consider the high earning potential of a dentist or specialist, protecting yourself against this event becomes even more critical.
When people find out I’m a resident in orthodontics, one of the first things they tell me besides their own experience with braces is how fantastic and cushy my future lifestyle will be. That’s open for debate. While people are generally aware of the amount of work and dedication it takes to become a dental specialist, little do they know about the financial costs. With the cost of attendance for dental school increasing every year coupled with the sky high costs for dental residency, let’s crunch some numbers to see what it takes (financially) to become a dental specialist. Spoiler alert: it costs a million dollars — or more — to become an orthodontist.
As a resident you probably don’t have too much money to play around with. That being said, don’t forget that you should start saving for retirement if you haven’t done so already. After all, your college friends who went into finance and tech had a huge start ahead of you. But don’t sweat it! It’s not too late. Below are the major differences between the basic retirement accounts.
Previously we ran side-by-side comparisons of dental school and medical school cost of attendance. You may or may not be surprised to learn that dental graduates owe on average $80K more than their medical counterparts. Curiously, both spend 4 years in training not including residency. Let’s look into the reasons why dental school is so much more cost-prohibitive than medical school.