THE NEXTDDS Blog

Maximize Your Earning Potential: Paying Off Your Student Loan Debt [Webinar]

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

Are you starting to worry about how you're going to pay for your dental school education? One of the biggest concerns that we hear consistently from dental students is getting out from under their debt burden when they finish school.

Many people already have previous schooling debt from their undergraduate programs and are looking for recommendations for reducing the burden of dental student loan debt. The good news is that there are plenty of small adjustments that dental students can make to reassess how they manage their student loan debt.

Financial wellness is an important goal as you transition from dental school into the dental profession. Loan debt can be a strong hindrance, but there are many ways to manage it. You can take certain steps both now and post-graduation to understand your overall credit health and to maximize your earning potential.

In this recent NEXTDDS webinar, students learned many of these key points including:

  • Recommendations for protecting your credit / credit health as a dental student
  • Understanding debt and compounding interest
  • Reviewing available repayment options
  • Differentiating between the “big 3”: educational debt, practice acquisition debt, and home ownership debt

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Click the picture above or click here to watch the webinar on Youtube.

Tags: debt, student loan, earning, webinar, student loan debt

Soldier through your dental school education debt free with the help of the military

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Air Force Captain Matthew Lee, DDS.Imagine completing dental school, diploma in hand, and striding right into a new job with a decent salary, no startup costs, and NO loan debt. You are probably scratching your head thinking, “Is this a dream or reality?”

For Air Force Captain Matthew Lee, DDS, it was both a dream and reality. As a graduate of the DDS class of 2014 at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, he paid for dental school with a four-year Air Force scholarship. Accepted into dental school on December 1, 2010, he heard he received the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) just a few months later in February.

“When I was younger I thought about being a pilot or astronaut. It had always been in the back of my mind,” explained Lee. While in college, he heard about HPSP, and figured it was a way not to become buried in student loan debt while pursuing his career.

For Lee, joining the Air Force was a great way to get a dental school education. After four years, “If I want to stay, I can. If I want to leave, I can,” says Lee. “It’s a nice, relaxing way to continue to learn,” says Lee, and in a couple years, he can make an educated decision on whether he will stay in military service.

There is also a place in the military for dental school graduates as Federally Employed Dental Professionals. You can attain a broader spectrum of experience faster with cutting-edge technologies that may not be available in every private practice. Plus, there are many opportunities for continuing education in specialty fields.

HPSP can be an especially enticing idea for first-year students that have just started dental school and see their loan debt building, explained Lee.  They can apply to receive a scholarship for the last three years of school.

Generally, each student is commissioned as an officer in the Medical Service Corps and placed on inactive, obligated Reserve status during the course of their studies. This arrangement takes a huge financial worry off students’ minds and allows them to dedicate time for learning.  “I didn’t have a uniform until I graduated and headed to officer training,” says Lee.

What’s the catch? Through the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy, these scholarships are offered for one-, two-, three-, and four-year terms. (There is no program offered by the U.S. Marine Corps, since it receives medical services from the U.S. Navy.).

In exchange for the scholarship, your commitment to your chosen military branch is to serve as an active-duty member with a year-for-year repayment, with a minimum obligation of three years. While each military branch may propose slightly different terms, the concept is the same: you receive up to a four-year scholarship paying for dental school tuition, expenses, and a cost-of-living stipend. Your tour of duty begins after you complete any internship and residency training requirements for your career field.

Following that path, Lee is continuing his schooling in an Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) residency. Considered de rigor for Air Force dental recruits, AEGD is a one-year (optional two-year) program to enhance a graduate’s skills and knowledge base and usually take place in a clinical setting.

“With AEGD, you get exposed to every specialty. It's not like a traditional dental school educational environment, but more of a ‘learn by doing’ situation,” he explained. “I did quite a few IV sedations, third molar and periodontal surgeries, as well as far more root canals than in dental school. I also became fairly proficient in cuspal coverage amalgam,” says Lee. You find out what it would be like to practice oral surgery, prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, and orthodontics by working with specialists from other bases, he adds.  

Students and dental school graduates considering starting their career in the military should weigh the pros and cons to figure out what might work best for them as individuals. If you want to be making millions when you finish dental school (that IS a dream, by the way), you might be disappointed with a military salary.

If dealing with insurance company red tape worries you, as a military dentist you’re able to give each patient the care they need without worrying about their ability to pay. If the idea of graduating dental school and jumping directly into private practice overwhelms you, then starting in the military may be a good way to build confidence and your clinical experience. Taking the private practice route may involve hefty startup costs, managing employees, building a patient base, and maintaining enough profit to pay off student loans.

If interested in reading more about Dr. Lee’s adventures as a dentist in the U.S. Air Force, follow his blog at http://usafdds.blogspot.com/

Tags: dental education, student loan, loan financing, dentistry in the military, paying for dental school

5 Benefits of a DSO-Supported Practice for New Graduates

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 07:00 PM

DSO-article-thumbTHE NEXTDDS Fall 2015 Magazine is now online! This issue features an article entitled Pick Your Path--What is a DSO? (on page 20) that looks at the role of the DSO-supported practice in modern dentistry and how new graduates may benefit from joining such a practice. Whether recent graduate or practicing dentist, there are many who may benefit from practicing in a DSO environment. Those desiring flexible schedules, bearing the burden of significant student loan debt, or needing to build competency in a structured practice model are ideal for the practice supported by a DSO. New dentists who wish to learn from proven business systems rather than a traditional solo practitioner are also well suited for the DSO model. Below are 5 benefits, that you can find out about more fully within the article, of a DSO-supported practice.

Compensation

With a guaranteed steady patient flow (a key driver in any practice) and competitive salary packages, it’s not surprising that this is a major factor in the decision for new graduates. Many affiliated dentists enjoy higher production and earn more than their counterparts in private practice due to an ability to spend time on patient care rather than business activities.

Ease of Employment

New graduates can face difficulties finding immediate employment for a number of reasons. Dentists are retiring later than in previous years, so the number of practices for sale/partnership have reduced. Recovery from the recession has been slow, so fewer private practices are hiring associates or graduates with little experience. It can be difficult for a new graduate to get a foot in the door or, alternately, to obtain capital for practice acquisition. Practices supported by DSOs are willing to employ new graduates and are able to support them to a degree that a private practice often cannot.

DSO_Path-thumbStudent Debt

Upon graduation, the average dentist has nearly $250,000 in student loan debt, creating a barrier to practice ownership. Generating enough income to cover debt and expenses the first few years as a solo practitioner can be challenging. Some DSOs have programs in place to help dental students retire their dental school debt faster.

Work/Life Balance

Modern employment trends are evolving, and lifestyle preferences such as regular hours, mobility, and flexible work schedules are becoming increasingly important. A successful dental career isn’t all about money, and married professionals and dual-profession families require a lifestyle that practice ownership doesn’t always allow.

Opportunities to Acquire Experience

Increasing confidence and clinical speed while building patient production is a big attraction for new dentists. Practices supported by DSOs are able to offer clinical supervision, ongoing education, in-house training, and other benefits that usually aren’t available in a traditional private practice. The opportunities for interaction with other dentists and peers is also an attractive feature of a larger practice structure. Organizations such as the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) have formed out this same imperative, enabling affiliated dentists to join a community and to brainstorm and collectively discuss issues affecting the profession.

DSO-supported practices are part of a growing trend in the industry to provide quality and affordable care to improve public health. Why is joining a practice associated with a DSO a smart move for a new dental graduate? Access the article now!

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Tags: dental students, dental, debt, dental support organization, student loan, DSO, graduating dentist

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