10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2008
Lackland AFB, TX
Several questions come up regularly on certain topics, so I'm going to try to give you some good avice in these areas.

Dental School:
Dental school wasn't meant to be a cake walk. It's supposed to be difficult, otherwise everyone would do it. The only way you can expect to do well is to put your nose to the grindstone and work hard. Remember, while you will have to worry about running a business and making a profit when you graduate, ultimately, you need to provide high quality oral health care.

See the dental school section. I know most people that are applying to dental school have no experience with the different specialties and don't know for sure if they want to specialize or not. From my experience, personal and as a program director, people change their minds very frequently. I have known several people that started out wanting one specialty or not wanting to specialize at all, only to change their mind after they had more exposure to it. If you want to be competitive for a specialty program you need to work hard to get the best GPA you can. You also need to impress people enough with your hand skills to show you can do the work. Moral of the story is....Don't sit back and relax and then in your 4th year start worrying about what it will take to specialize. You don't have to be obnoxious, but go in guns blazing and see where it takes you. Specialty programs are competitive. If you don't meet the requirements, you will not be selected. Work hard from the start and keep your options open. You never know what you may want to do. I didn't realize I wanted more until I had been practicing for a couple of years. I have several colleagues that did the same thing. They practiced for a while and said, I just realized, I really like... and now I want to specialize in it. They had set themselves up for success from the beginning and now they are specialists.

National Boards:
Pass the boards. You cannot get a license without it and failing the boards is incompatible with military service.

It doesn't make much difference. When you look at the accreditation standards for the 2 programs, they are very similar. As a matter of fact, some AEGD programs look very much like a GPR on paper. I know I'm a little bias being an AEGD Director, but to me the AEGD/GPR programs are the most overlooked best education you can get. In the military, it's one year designed to make you a very comprehensive dentist. I love it when my friends tell me they are adding something to their practice that they learned in a weekend course. I added those things to my practice after a 2 year AEGD and I'm way ahead of them on my experience. Some will think, I don't need that training. I've been involved in some form of teaching for quite some time now and I ahve never had anyone say, "That was a waste of my time." I guarantee you will learn some fantastic stuff.

Military Dentistry:
Military life isn't for everyone. Do some soul searching before you join. You will have less control over your life than someone outside the military, but it's not a big deal. One common theme I hear, not necessarily on this board, is people complaining about where the military moves them. Please remember, no matter what service you join, we have a mission. That mission is to make sure our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are dentally ready to fight a war. For those of you that have been deployed, you will know how a simple dental issue can take someone out of the fight. The military will place you where they need you to complete the mission. Sometimes you will have more control over that process than others. Think of each move as an adventure. Also remember, what makes an assignment good or bad is 1) your attitude, and 2) the people you are there with. You can go to the best location on earth, but if you have a bad attitude or you're there with some real knuckleheads, it won't be a great assignment.

Advice from others:
Some is good and some is bad. "How will I know?" you may ask. you won't. Work with your recruiters. Ask questions here. Understand that things change and some advice you get here may not be entirely correct. It's up to you to ferret out the correct info. The info you get from this site isn't binding. The information you get from your recruiter should be. Never feel bad about asking for something in writing from your recruiter. If you don't understand something, keep asking until you do.
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