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Is Dental School worth 450K debt?

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  • #16




    Not knowing your current status in life (income, family, assets, marital status, etc.) and your educational background, a nurse practitioner or PA might be worth considering. I have long thought that the time and money investment to become a PA/NP is a better deal than a pediatrician or general practitioner. It might compare favorably, as well, to a general dentist.

    I have a friend currently in a dental residency, gaining experience and earning barely enough to live on, while his parents are paying the interest (or minimum payments) on his $375k debt bomb. He is quite a bit younger, 27 IIRC, and drowning in debt but not truly aware of it at the moment.
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    Hi, I was actually considering PA/Physician Assistant masters degree since it's only 2 years and the tuition for PA schools is only around 35-40K a year....Since many of the people who responded are Physicians what do you all think of Physician Assistants? I am very interested in Dermatology Physician Assistant and could see myself happy in that....

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    • #17







      PhysicianOnFire, Medical School is much cheaper than Dental School unfortunately.

      Here is the cost of most private dental schools:

      http://dental.nyu.edu/academicprograms/dds-program/tuition.html
      Click to expand…


      I’ve never heard that before — so I checked the tuition at my alma mater.

      Medical school tuition is $38,000 for residents, and dental school is $35,000. Tack on $20,000+ for non-residents.

      There are two public dental schools in NY with tuition of $34,000 to $35,000.

      That’s the cost of tuition only, but if you have a public school option, you could get out with less than $450k in debt.

      Dental school does not appear to be  more expensive than medical school, but the average med school debt includes those who had family help, scholarship, jobs beforehand, etc… and that number ($180k) is from people that finished a year or two ago.

      Good luck with your decision — just trying to help you make an informed one.

      -PoF
      Click to expand...


      Thanks for your response....I am actually not a New York state resident. My state does not have any public medical or dental schools. (It's a small state). Getting into a state dental school as an out-of-state resident is very competitive and also, for many of them, they charge more tuition for out-of-state students anyway.

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      • #18
        I actually told the head of GME at my residency that I wish I had gone to PA school and he about lost it.  In all seriousness, with PA school, you only go to school for two years and then you have the ability to change your specialty at any time.  You have an additional five years of making a salary of $100,000 and you do not have to do a residency with 80+ hour work weeks.  I do not know of any physician assistants that do 24 hour call either.  Obviously at the end of the day you are not a physician but you get to do similar work, have job flexibility, and the training time is much decreased.

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        • #19
          I think recommending an applicant to seek admission to a more affordable dental school is pretty weak advice.  Dental schools with "reasonable tuition" are state schools and give preferential admission to in-state applicants.  At my dental school out of state students could not obtain in-state tuition after the first year and were paying $125k per year for tuition, lab fees, and living expenses.

          Finding a job your first year out of dental schools can a bit of a drag if you just want to do shift work.  You can work for an FQHC making $120k-140k per year pulling nasty teeth out of meth mouths.  You might also try working for a dental chain, they pay a bit better, but they work your tail to the bone and most dentists get burnt out after 3-7 years. The golden days of dentistry were 1970-1990 before the insurance companies took control of the market.  Those days are over and it is a tight job market.  The draw of dentistry continues to be owning your own practice.  The advantages of small business is the ability to make money off the hygienist that is cleaning teeth in addition to your own production.  If a dentist hires you to work for them, then they will need to be making money off you as well.  The small business gets tax advantages and no one is skimming money off the top.  If you do not want to own your own practice, you are unlikely to make more than $140,000 per year.

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          • #20
            I'm not sure where the WSJ gets their data. $125k for a dentist is low. I was at 120k right out of school working 36 hrs/ week. There are a lot of dental franchises or corporations that lure recent grads in. They don't pay well and put a lot of pressure on the dentist to produce more than they have been trained to do. As result the quality of their services drops.

            This is what I've seen from dentistry in Utah and Colorado. You should be able to start as an associate at $120k out of school, but you may have to be willing to live in a rural area.  5-10 years out as an associate you'll be at 160-180k. If you own a practice you can be at 250k+. It all depends on where you're willing to live. Dentist incomes are lower in big cities where the corporations have lowered fees so far that private practice dentists can't compete. If you're willing to live in a city with a population of 10,000 - 20,000 you can do really well.

            Don't feel like you have to own a practice if you don't want to, but it gives you so much more freedom. Do you want 2 weeks off for Christmas? Go ahead. Do you want to buy a new boat? Go ahead, just work a couple Fridays next month. Otherwise you're working 8-5 M-Th.

            Are you flexible on where you'd go to school? I went to Iowa. Their resident tuition is $170; nonresident is $266. That doesn't include instruments, fees, etc. After that you're looking at $215-300k. That doesn't include housing costs.

            Have you considered joining the military? I haven't looked at it lately, but when I was in school you could have your tuition paid with a 4 year commitment to serve.

             

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            • #21




              I’m not sure where the WSJ gets their data. $125k for a dentist is low. I was at 120k right out of school working 36 hrs/ week. There are a lot of dental franchises or corporations that lure recent grads in. They don’t pay well and put a lot of pressure on the dentist to produce more than they have been trained to do. As result the quality of their services drops.

              This is what I’ve seen from dentistry in Utah and Colorado. You should be able to start as an associate at $120k out of school, but you may have to be willing to live in a rural area.  5-10 years out as an associate you’ll be at 160-180k. If you own a practice you can be at 250k+. It all depends on where you’re willing to live. Dentist incomes are lower in big cities where the corporations have lowered fees so far that private practice dentists can’t compete. If you’re willing to live in a city with a population of 10,000 – 20,000 you can do really well.

              Don’t feel like you have to own a practice if you don’t want to, but it gives you so much more freedom. Do you want 2 weeks off for Christmas? Go ahead. Do you want to buy a new boat? Go ahead, just work a couple Fridays next month. Otherwise you’re working 8-5 M-Th.

              Are you flexible on where you’d go to school? I went to Iowa. Their resident tuition is $170; nonresident is $266. That doesn’t include instruments, fees, etc. After that you’re looking at $215-300k. That doesn’t include housing costs.

              Have you considered joining the military? I haven’t looked at it lately, but when I was in school you could have your tuition paid with a 4 year commitment to serve.

               
              Click to expand...


              Hello,

              I am flexible but I live in a state that does not have a public medical or dental school. It is very competitive to get into a public school as an out-of-state resident, and in many case, out-of-state students have to pay out-of-state tuition anyway. My only concern is that dental school costs 450K. The cost of a practice would be another 500K. This would mean I would be 1 million in debt. I am not interested in the military option----it would mean moving around for the next 4 years after dental school. As a non-traditional student, this is not appealing to me. Also, the army or navy scholarships are extremely competitive to get now anyway. Plus if you have ever been to a Psychiatrist for anxiety/depression and had to take meds, you are immediately eliminated from being considered. Is it really worth going 1 million in debt to own your own practice as a dentist?

              Comment


              • #22




                I think recommending an applicant to seek admission to a more affordable dental school is pretty weak advice.  Dental schools with “reasonable tuition” are state schools and give preferential admission to in-state applicants.  At my dental school out of state students could not obtain in-state tuition after the first year and were paying $125k per year for tuition, lab fees, and living expenses.

                Finding a job your first year out of dental schools can a bit of a drag if you just want to do shift work.  You can work for an FQHC making $120k-140k per year pulling nasty teeth out of meth mouths.  You might also try working for a dental chain, they pay a bit better, but they work your tail to the bone and most dentists get burnt out after 3-7 years. The golden days of dentistry were 1970-1990 before the insurance companies took control of the market.  Those days are over and it is a tight job market.  The draw of dentistry continues to be owning your own practice.  The advantages of small business is the ability to make money off the hygienist that is cleaning teeth in addition to your own production.  If a dentist hires you to work for them, then they will need to be making money off you as well.  The small business gets tax advantages and no one is skimming money off the top.  If you do not want to own your own practice, you are unlikely to make more than $140,000 per year.
                Click to expand...


                Thanks for your response. Private dental school including living expenses would be 450K. Buying a practice would be another 500K. Is it worth it go 1 million in debt to be a private practice dentist????

                Comment


                • #23




                  I actually told the head of GME at my residency that I wish I had gone to PA school and he about lost it.  In all seriousness, with PA school, you only go to school for two years and then you have the ability to change your specialty at any time.  You have an additional five years of making a salary of $100,000 and you do not have to do a residency with 80+ hour work weeks.  I do not know of any physician assistants that do 24 hour call either.  Obviously at the end of the day you are not a physician but you get to do similar work, have job flexibility, and the training time is much decreased.
                  Click to expand...


                  Ive told my kids that PA is the way to go. Almost all of the fun parts of being a doctor with almost zero of the ultimate responsibilities (assume that will change), much faster/cheaper and pay can be excellent. They also dont get pushed around like residents or doctors for longer hours, when their shift is up theyre out.

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                  • #24







                    I actually told the head of GME at my residency that I wish I had gone to PA school and he about lost it.  In all seriousness, with PA school, you only go to school for two years and then you have the ability to change your specialty at any time.  You have an additional five years of making a salary of $100,000 and you do not have to do a residency with 80+ hour work weeks.  I do not know of any physician assistants that do 24 hour call either.  Obviously at the end of the day you are not a physician but you get to do similar work, have job flexibility, and the training time is much decreased.
                    Click to expand…


                    Ive told my kids that PA is the way to go. Almost all of the fun parts of being a doctor with almost zero of the ultimate responsibilities (assume that will change), much faster/cheaper and pay can be excellent. They also dont get pushed around like residents or doctors for longer hours, when their shift is up theyre out.
                    Click to expand...


                     

                    Comment


                    • #25










                      I actually told the head of GME at my residency that I wish I had gone to PA school and he about lost it.  In all seriousness, with PA school, you only go to school for two years and then you have the ability to change your specialty at any time.  You have an additional five years of making a salary of $100,000 and you do not have to do a residency with 80+ hour work weeks.  I do not know of any physician assistants that do 24 hour call either.  Obviously at the end of the day you are not a physician but you get to do similar work, have job flexibility, and the training time is much decreased.
                      Click to expand…


                      Ive told my kids that PA is the way to go. Almost all of the fun parts of being a doctor with almost zero of the ultimate responsibilities (assume that will change), much faster/cheaper and pay can be excellent. They also dont get pushed around like residents or doctors for longer hours, when their shift is up theyre out.
                      Click to expand…


                      True, plus Medicine is a bit more interesting than Dental. No offense to Dentists viewing this thread, but I didn’t find drilling and filling teeth or crown & bridge work to be that interesting….I found Dentistry to be a bit boring because it’s very detail-oriented and bit repetitive (not sure if I found it boring b/c I was shadowing and it will actually be interesting if you are working as a Dentist)
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                      Gee, if you are not interested in drilling and filling teeth or crown and bridge work and find dental work to be boring, it sounds to me that you should definitely NOT go into dentistry. That said, whatever medical field you will choose will likely get boring (or at least, routine) after a while, too.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Dentists can have a decent lifestyle and repay high debts only if they have their own practices, work hard and employ hygienists ( like FP's who employ NP's and PA's).

                        Based on your responses, you might be happier becoming a PA or NP.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          I'll add just a few points:

                          • You might have underestimated the cost if using educational loans to finance.  Accrued interest over 4 years at 7% rate will add ~$70k to $80k.

                          • Tuition costs are not static.  Expect a 4% annual increase in tuition.

                          • NYC is not cheap.

                          • I estimate the loan balance at repayment(assuming you borrow) to be ~$550k

                          • Corporate dentistry, PPOs and HMOs have taken a toll on this profession.  Their impact will continued to grow, IMO, and will negatively influence income potential.


                          On a more positive note:

                          • Income driven repayment (IDR) programs make federal loan repayment manageable as they are a percentage of adjusted gross income (about 9% of AGI).

                            • Any amount forgiven at the end of the repayment period (probably 20 years for you) is currently considered taxable income.

                            • And despite the recent GAO report, it's my opinion current borrowers will be grandfather with the current IDR terms.




                          On a personal note, my wife is a dentist & practice owner.  I would advise her against dentistry if it meant $550k educational debt and practicing in a saturated market.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Wow, I knew I had it good, but you guys are really making me feel fortunate. I am a partner at a pretty well run, large, group private dental practice. I am 5 years out and will make around 600K this year. I have partners that are about to retire and have made about 250K their entire career. Our full time associates range from about 150-230K. As you can see, the range is huge, as WCI noted he met a periodontist making well over 1M. With all that said, if you are an outlier and make a high income, you could be fine. I think if I had 450K of loans and make the income I do, I would feel that burden pretty heavily, maybe that is just me.

                            I would pass on 450K. You know for sure that you will have massive debt, you really have no idea how much money you will make. Maybe things will line up perfectly, maybe not.

                            Comment


                            • #29




                              Wow, I knew I had it good, but you guys are really making me feel fortunate. I am a partner at a pretty well run, large, group private dental practice. I am 5 years out and will make around 600K this year. I have partners that are about to retire and have made about 250K their entire career. Our full time associates range from about 150-230K. As you can see, the range is huge, as WCI noted he met a periodontist making well over 1M. With all that said, if you are an outlier and make a high income, you could be fine. I think if I had 450K of loans and make the income I do, I would feel that burden pretty heavily, maybe that is just me.

                              I would pass on 450K. You know for sure that you will have massive debt, you really have no idea how much money you will make. Maybe things will line up perfectly, maybe not.
                              Click to expand...


                              That's great that you make such a high income.....But like you said, there is no guarantee I will make that much. I would rather go by the AVERAGE income for a dentist to be safe. According to the ADA, the average income for an Associate dentist is around 120-130K...For a private practice dentist, it is much higher. I realize it's all variable because it's based on production--obviously some will make a lot more (if they are able to work constantly and produce enormously) and some will make much less if they work less hours/days and produce less.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Exactly what I am saying, I realize my income is not the norm. I did not plan on making that much ever in my career and would not advise anyone to use an outliers income (low or high) when planning. I think you are wise to question this, and would be wise to skip going 450k in debt for the likelihood of making 150k.

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