FIGURE 5-1 Unfilled full-time positions on dental school faculties, 1992–2002.

SOURCE: American Dental Education Association.

percent.2 An important related financial issue is the debt incurred by dental students during their studies. Among students who entered dental school in 1998, about 60 percent had no education debt. Those who reported debt had an average burden of $25,300. Hence, a rationale might be that a pool of applicants with little or no education debt would be more at liberty to select a career path aimed at pursuing interests, rather than immediately generating income for debt service. However, of those graduating from dental school in 2002, 29 percent reported debt levels of $100,000 to $149,999.3 Debt levels higher than $150,000 were reported by 29 percent of graduates. The average debt of all students upon graduation (from both public and private dental schools) was $107,500 (this average includes debt-free students). The average debt of those students who had at least some debt was $122,500. In general, their debt is higher than in any other profession, including medicine, because they are required to purchase instruments used in dental school. The impact of debt on career path is substantiated by the finding that nearly 24 percent of dental school seniors indicate debt as a factor influencing career plans. Further, as debt levels increase, a progressively higher percentage of seniors with the higher debt levels opt to immediately enter private practice.

Perhaps the most significant factor driving the low interest in research among dentists is the prospect of a very lucrative career in private practice. General practitioners can expect an annual income of nearly $150,000, with specialists earning over $200,000, and there is no indication that these figures will decline in the future even with significant ad-

TABLE 5-1 Vacant Faculty Positions in Dental Schools, 2001–2002

Primary Area of Appointment

Vacant Positions

Full-Time

Part-Time

Total

Clinical sciences

194

63

257

Basic sciences

20

1

21

Administration

25

1

26

Allied dental

3

3

6

Research

25

2

27

Other

6

1

7

Total

273

71

344

 

SOURCE: American Dental Education Association.

2  

Haden, N. K., R. G. Weaver, and R. W. Valachovic. 2002.

3  

American Dental Education Association. 2001.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement