Would You Choose Dentistry Again?

In a 1990 editorial comment, I asked the question, "If you were starting over or just about to choose a career, would you become a dentist again?" Dentists "voted" by using the Reader Service Card. While the voting method might have been weighted, we were surprised when 53 percent (304 of 572 respondents) said "no."

Dick Hale

Editor/Publisher

dickh@pennwell.com

In a 1990 editorial comment, I asked the question, "If you were starting over or just about to choose a career, would you become a dentist again?" Dentists "voted" by using the Reader Service Card. While the voting method might have been weighted, we were surprised when 53 percent (304 of 572 respondents) said "no."

Let`s repeat the question and see whether the answers might not be different in 1996. If your answer is "yes," I would choose dentistry again, circle Reader Service Number 150. If your answer is "no" and you would choose a different career, circle Reader Service Number 151. The Reader Service Cards, located at the back of the magazine, are postage-paid. If you would like to comment on the proposition, just direct your letters to me at Box 3408, Tulsa, OK 74101, or use the e-mail address below my signature.

My own perception is that fewer dentists will mark "no" than those who did in 1990. This is not to say that dentists are no longer frustrated, but OSHA has not proven to be the ogre that many anticipated, the AIDS in the dental office paranoia has subsided somewhat, dental incomes continue to rise and dentists are finding their own comfort zones in the managed-care arena. Some dentists are avoiding managed care entirely, many are embracing it and finding that it is manageable, while still others are getting more comfortable with a mix of managed care and fee for service. Our annual Practice Survey shows that the net income for dentists took a healthy rise this past year. Much of that stems from dentists finding ways to get control of their overhead. In 1990, many dentists found the costs of doing business were escalating faster than their gross production revenues.

An additional positive sign-more dentists report participation in a retirement savings plan in 1996. Still another reason that I believe there is less frustration now than in 1996 stems from the positive letters we received from the recent graduates who applied for our one-year Editorial Board position. Most had successful experiences, both as associates and in starting their own practices. Young dentists who want to go into private practice are finding financing to be more available, and also are joining with senior dentists willing to participate in agreeable buy-in arrangements.

Of course, problems and frustrations still exist. Take a minute to let us know how you feel. Take a few more minutes and write to tell us why you voted yes or no. We`d like to hear from you! We hope your answer to starting over in dentistry is "yes." If it is not, then we hope that you will ask yourself one more question: "What can I do to answer `yes` by this time next year?" There are solutions, but you will need to take action to find the course of action best-suited for your particular situation.

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