Do Women Have to Choose Between Kids and a Dental Career?

Why Some People Think Dental Schools Should Favor Male Applicants

This week I’m releasing the results of my highly controversial gender and dental school survey. I’m not taking an editorial stance on the topic, but I wanted to explore why (according to some people) a dental school might favor male applicants over female.

The primary argument is one of access to care. Evidence indicates that women with young children work fewer hours than their male colleagues. Women who attend dental school, then stop practicing once they have children, received the harshest criticism. Many would argue that her spot in dental school should have instead gone to someone who would provide more dental care to more people.

Dental school is expensive, but a dental education costs even more than the price of tuition. This is especially true at state-run schools, where much of a student’s education is provided at the public’s expense. “In light of the high taxpayer cost to train dentists and the impending shortage of dentists; if female dentists want to be home with their children and not practice at least 30 hours/week for at least four years, they should have to pay back to the state the amount it cost to train them,” opined a female dentist.

Moreover, female students are outpacing their male classmates. With more female applicants than male, many schools that want to maintain an even gender balance have had to raise the bar for female prospects while they lower it for males. Schools that practice gender-blind admissions are finding their ratio of female to male students highly skewed — more than two to one at some schools! Overall, women today make up 58% of US college students. (Read the New York Times article for more info.)

But there’s one more issue at play here, and I think it’s a lot more important than most people realize. Research has consistently shown that male alumni donate more. For this reason, dental schools will quite literally make larger profits from male graduates than female. It might not be an ideal decision-making criterion, but you can never underestimate the importance of the financial bottom line.

The most comprehensive analysis of alumni donations to graduate schools was published in 1996 by The American Journal of Economics and Sociology. The study found that a fundraiser’s best target is a man with an advanced degree from the institution. There is no magic formula, but certain factors seem to correlate with an alum’s giving. The following factors affect both the likelihood and size of a graduate’s donations:

  • Gender: Men typically donate more than women. It is not clear if this is simply because men tend to earn more, or if there are other factors at play.
  • Degree type: The most money comes from a graduate’s first doctoral degree, not the undergraduate education or any additional professional degrees.
  • Age: Alumni with graduate degrees do not typically donate much money early in their careers. However, as they accumulate more wealthy later in life, they are increasingly likely to send some back to their alma mater.
  • School ties: Having other family members who have attended the same institution (particularly a spouse) raises a graduate’s giving, as does participating in alumni events.
  • Income: Though schools rarely have direct income data on individual graduates, those with degrees in higher-paying fields tend to donate more money.
  • Business and tax cycles have been shown to influence giving.

This is a bit of a “chicken or the egg” conundrum: Given that schools have tended to target their fund-raising efforts to male alumni, is it any surprise that women donate less? There are significant financial and emotional difference between men and women when it comes to donating. (Check out an old New York Times article on the subject.)

To find out more about what today’s dentists think of gender profiling, check out our complete gender and dentistry survey results. And don’t hesitate to post your own comments below!

Dentists: Does 99 Dollars an Hour Make You a Wealthy Dentist?

Dentists: Does 99 Dollars an Hour Make You a Wealthy Dentist?Dentists make $99.00 an hour, which is more than orthopaedic surgeons but less than nurse anesthetists, according to a study by Suneel B. Bhat, MD, an orthopaedic surgery resident and his colleagues at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Presented this month at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2012 Annual Meeting, Dr. Bhat’s study found that becoming an orthopaedic surgeon was a “poor financial investment” compared with studying law, dentistry, or anesthesia nursing, according to Medscape Today News.

“Our study, the first direct comparison of the financial return of orthopaedic surgery to other professions, highlights the point that there is a relatively lower financial value incentive for qualified individuals to enter orthopaedics compared to several other professions, which could potentially have far-reaching implications on career choice and subsequent access to care for patients,” the authors concluded.

The Medscape report revealed that the researchers found that dentists earned a cumulative career total of $6,866,796.

That was less than the $10,756,190 made by orthopaedic surgeons, the $8,381,250 made by lawyers, and the $7,338,412 made by nurse anesthetists, but more than the $3,867,504 made by nurse practitioners.

Also published in the report is the amount of debt factored into the study for orthopaedic surgery students, which has increased by $34,000 for public schools and $40,000 in private schools over the past five years.

Since 1984, the medical school tuition has raised in public institutions by 165% and in private institutions 312%. They assumed that educational loans would be deferred until the annual liability was less than 25% of earnings, and that interest on the loans was 8.25%, according to Medscape.

When hourly income was calculated, orthopaedic surgeons made $88.00 per hour, compared to $93.00 for nurse anesthetists, $130.00 for lawyers, $49.00 nurse practitioners, and $99.00 for dentists.

The lingering recession has taken a bite out of dentists’ incomes over the past 4 years with many laying off employees and postponing retirement. The average dentist salary according to the U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics is $74.00 an hour, with some new dentists earning $26.00 per hour at the lower salary range, while dentists at the upper range earn $80.00 per hour.

Another recent study compared the earning of high school graduates who skipped college and grad school expenses and went directly into the trades. The study compared a plumber with no advance educational cost and debt to a physician. The plumber came out ahead on life time earnings.

The real kicker was that the physicians not only got nailed for the extra school costs and debt expense, but were taxed by the government at a higher rate on their delayed earnings.

With the cost of higher education continuing to rise and the amount of student loan debt graduates carry after graduation, do you think dentists leaving dental school today still have the opportunity to become a wealthy dentist?

For more on this study see: Dentists’ Hourly Income Better Than Orthopaedic Surgeons’

Dental School Drama Ends with $1.7M Payout

Most dentists will remember academic politics from their days in dental school, but few have seen the amount of drama Alissa Zwick has.

Zwick, 30, was asked to leave the University of Michigan’s dental school after her third year, allegedly because her clinical techniques were poor. (She maintained a B average.)

However, a federal jury sided with Zwick, finding the school’s action illegal and awarding the former student $1.7 million.

So what’s the real story? Well, it’s complicated…

Since Zwick has attention deficit disorder (ADD), she asked if she could take her exams in a private setting. Two of her professors objected to this. Associate Dean Dr. Marilyn Lantz apparently had pre-existing problems with these professors, who eventually resigned.

When this caused controversy among the students, Dr. Lantz put the blame on Zwick. Zwick’s public comments earned her first Lantz’s disapproval, then a surprising expulsion.

While the university will likely cover the damages, Dr. Lantz was named as the primary defendant. Zwick’s payout includes a million dollars in punitive damages.

Though she was admitted to seven other dental schools before Michigan, her expulsion has left her unable to get into any other dental program. So Zwick is now studying to be a speech pathologist.

Read more

Ireland Mulls $87k Dental Graduation Tax

Graduation taxIreland is facing a shortage of funds for higher education. A new plan proposes that, rather than raising tuition fees, graduates should have to pay a “graduate tax” to repay some of the costs of their education.

Dental students would face a €64,000 tax upon graduation.

Proponents of the plan insist that other graduates would have to pay far less, with the average student facing a €12,000 graduation tax.

As if dental school wasn’t expensive enough… How would you feel about paying an $87,000 tax to graduate?

Read more about the plan

Share your thoughts on the graduate tax…

Dentists Disappointed by Dental Graduates

Dental school graduates disappoint dentistsWhen it comes to dental school graduates, only one dentist in two is satisfied. Overall, dentists graded recent dental graduates at about a C+.

Half of survey respondents report that they are “satisfied” (33%) or “very satisfied” (17%). On the other hand, half are “seriously disappointed” (22%) or “mostly unimpressed” (28%).

Here’s what dentists have to say about dental school graduates – both in terms of dental practice management savvy and clinical know-how:

  • “I feel that a lot of the graduates of dental school do not have the work ethic that my group has, and they expect to be making a six figure income straight out of school!!” (Alabama dentist)
  • “Clinical requirements for graduation have been decreasing significantly, and students now are not getting the same education and experience students did 10 years ago.  Most receive little to no dental implant education and little experience with dentures.” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “Too many don’t know how to do the procedures required once in practice.  With us old guys being their backup, they continue to work… but as we retire, the skills we teach them are lost to them.”
  • “Texas has three fine dental school with state of the art equipment.” (Texas dentist)
  • “I think it is a shame that some state schools accept an inordinate number of international students over qualified in-state students, frankly because they can charge the former increased tuitions.”

Read more: Dental School Graduates Disappoint Dentists

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