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Dental Public Health - what it entails, opportunities, competitive state

Discussion in 'Dental Residents and Practicing Dentists' started by Adversary, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. Adversary

    7+ Year Member

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    Hi,

    Can anyone shed life on a Dental Public Health Residency/Specialty? I looked at the ADEA web site and it shows that there are a total of 19 spots each year in 13 programs total across the US.

    Does anyone know in general where completion of these programs lead to? As well, does anyone know how competitive these programs are?

    Lastly, any tips on which programs are most popular?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. Quattro DMD

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    So pretty much you need a DDS/DMD degree and an MPH to apply to most of the programs. Most of them are 1 year full time or 2 years part time. Some of them are associated with schools, while others are associated with the state health department. As far as competitiveness goes I'm not really sure. I know that at the completion of the program you sit for a board exam in which upon passing you become a dental public health specialist (there's very few in the U.S., I think less than 200).

    I'm not sure which program is the most popular, but I like the one in North Carolina. Here's a linke from the AAPHD website.

    http://www.aaphd.org/default.asp?page=education.htm
     
  4. Adversary

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    I need to obtain a MSc in MPH before I can even apply to most Dental Public Health specialties?

    That's the web site I used to look up info on. However, I hope to find out more about the career and whether it is something I would like to consider in the future. Thanks for your help so far.

    Anyone else have more information?
     
  5. Quattro DMD

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    Yep, for the most part you need an MPH or equivalant prior to matriculation into the program. The only exception that I know if is the Harvard program b/c it's three years and in the first year you actually earn your MPH or MS, and if you already have your MPH you can enter with one year advanced standing.

    You don't necessarily need to be a public health specialist to work in public health, but if you want a higher leadership role in the DPH field than it would help a lot. Plus most DPH jobs are salary, and they aren't exactly tons of open positoins. But like I said, you don't need the specialty cert. or MPH do work in the field, I mean there's plenty of community health centers that you can work at.

    I'm actually getting my MPH right now. I'm planning on doing the recidency after school. However I haven't even started dental school yet so it's possible that I'll change my mind. Good luck.
     
  6. Guy Smiley

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    As a dentist who works in public health, I am going to disagree with this statement somewhat. Depending on what you call public health, there may be lots of positions open. If you are looking to work for the US Health Dept, I don't know if there are many open slots there as I don't work for them. However, there are many non-profit community clinics out there who do have openings; you just have to be willing to go to small under served towns. Many places stuggle to fill these positions for a variety of reasons. They are far away from any medium sized town or larger and often the pay isn't that great, but it is certainly reasonable and you can qualify for loan payback in the underserved areas. And you definitely don't need an MPH unless you are looking to be dental director for a large company or something like that.
     
  7. Quattro DMD

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    I agree with you. There's tons of positions in DPH, working for the Commissioned Corps, IHS, Community Health Centers (non-profit clinics), etc. I just meant that if the OP is going to get an MPH and complete a dental public health residency that he/she might have a hard time finding a higher level leadership position. But as you reiterated, you don't need need MPH or a specialty cert. to work in public health.
     
  8. Adversary

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    For my curiosity, what is the pay range for a DPH specialist in the different areas?

    Also, Guy, can you tell me more about your career and what you find wonderful and terrible about it? I would like to see if the career is something that makes sense in my future.
     
  9. Rube

    Rube Member
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    You don't have to have a MPH to get hired within PHS/IHS as a dental director. If you want to be a dental director you can also do a 2-year AGPR which requires 2 years prior service for eligibility. Then if you are commissioned corps (CC) you are on your way to 06grade. As a federal hire (non CC) you'd be like a GS-13 after residency. Pay could vary widely as a fed hire from 110-175 ish. As CC you would be looking at over 110 with generous benes and non contributory retirement at 20 yrs service. A dental director position requires an AGPR residency but not necessarily a PH speciality cert.
     
  10. pietrodds

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    what it entails... it entails not liking what you actually went to school for which is treating patients. So people that find themselves in such a situation with lots of school debt find that they're more comfortable pushing paper and telling others how to do the job that they don't want to do. Look at any gov't agency that has a dental branch and this is what you'll find.

    If you truly want to learn about public health, work in a community health clinic for a year and you'll learn more than any MPH program can offer you. My advice would be if you really want to serve the public get involved in organized dentistry such as the ADA or AGD. If you just want a job as a bumbling idiot with your head up your ass working as a taxpayer-subsidized bureaucrat, than get your MPH and work for a state or federal agency telling other dentists how to do the job that your are in fact avoiding. An MPH degree will make you look more competitive on paper when competing against other hopeful, wannabe bureaucrats vying for one of those few positions that will afford one the opportunity to not actually have to do dentistry but it won't teach you to understand public health. Good luck.
     
  11. Guy Smiley

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    Well, I can tell you that I don't really consider it to be my career since I won't be doing public health for the rest of my life. But I can tell you my perspective being about being in public health. There are patients I love to see and there are patients I dread seeing. It's rewarding to be able to work on those who would not get dental care otherwise, especially when they are grateful. It is frustrating as all get out to work on people who tell you what they want done and your opinion as a dentist be damned. I can't speak for other organizations, but my impression of them as well is that most of public health work is based on encounters. You are supposed to see a certain number of people in a certain amount of time. You often will see patients for shorter periods of time and bring them back for multiple visits. You will rarely do quad dentistry except for perio extractions. It's great to go home and not be on call and not think about the job after you leave work. Really, I think it depends on the organization you work for. I happen to work for a stellar organization that is really backs its dentists up and I'd probably work for them for several more years if I wasn't going back to school.

    Hope that helps.
     
  12. Adversary

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    Guy, what organization do you work for?
     
  13. pedo2008

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    I am a recent DDS grad working on my MPH (full-time) this year while working (very part-time). My MPH will be in Health Policy and Management and I get this question all the time: what exactly is public health and what are you going to do with it?

    Without writing a novel, I have found my new knowledge of public health and our healthcare system very valuable as a healthcare practicioner. I learn about how policies are made, what politics affect policies, what management of a healthcare organization (big or small) entails, and that there is much more that going into providing healthcare to and protecting the health of our population than just what a dentist/physician does one-on-one with his/her patients.

    I do not spend all day learning about "poor people." We use (somewhat incorrectly) the term public health when describing FQHCs, Medicaid clinics, the like, whereas public health really isn't out there for *treatment* of disease, but moreso prevention and protection for all. We deal with air quality, water quality, zonings for grocery stores in certain neighborhoods, injury prevention, and when dealing with dentistry--water fluoridation, school-based prevention programs like mouthrinse/sealants, getting coke machines out of schools, and surveillance of the disease levels within our states. This is only a small summary of what you will learn in a brief overview year of doing an MPH. I am so glad I am doing it.

    So how am I going to use it? I plan to specialize in pedo, and after that--either do academics, public health administration, or enter a group practice. I want to be a dentist as long as physically possible, and it never hurts to have this broadened perspective about our healthcare system and delivery. I find it making a difference in treating patients...while I still work one-on-one with patients, I see that there is a larger picture in the mix. With an MPH, I have lots of opportunities open to me in the future. Sure, I can become a dental director of something, work on writing grants, or I can just be an awesome public-health-minded dentist! I like researching and answering oral health epidemiological questions, dealing with health policy issues (such as Medicaid/SCHIP as one example), and trying to find solutions to improve access-to-care, so that dental/oral health care can be provided (even at just a basic level) to all, so that infections aren't being treated in the emergency room, costing the healthcare system thousands of unnecessary dollars.

    OK this turned into a novel, but I am happy to answer any more questions. I know Arizona places an emphasis on the core courses of public health (epidemiology, health behavior, environmental health, biostatistics, health policy), but I wish all dental students were exposed to more of these things in dental school. Perhaps less biochem hours and more public health...?
     
  14. Guy Smiley

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    I'd rather not say in public. I like having a little anonymity. I will say that I work for a small, non-profit company in the Southwest that has only about 5 sites for dentists and it's relatively localized. If you are actually looking for a public health job and know what area you want to go to, you can PM me and I'll tell more if you are coming to the same area.
     
  15. moderndentist

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  16. mike3kgt

    mike3kgt Hopefully scuba diving
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    Has anybody actually known anybody go into a dental public health residency? This type of program seems to cater to those academic or government minded career folks.

    To work in public health, you ABSOLUTELY do not need a MPH or residency in public health. All you need is a DMD/DDS, patience, and a good set of 150/151s.

    I have externed in IHS in D-school. After school, I worked two practices, one high end and the other public health community health center. Both rewarding in their own rights. I worked in a true community health center, NO medicaid, only sliding fee schedule private pay patients.

    Summary:

    Indian Health Service = excellent career choice if you don't mind really rural and Indian populations. They are very gentle people but high meth and alcohol abuse. I loved my experience there and would go back if it weren't for the wife. Salary was offered in the 100k+ range starting commissioned corps, tax free benefits with housing allowance. This was such an easy job, and no hassles. 10-15 patients / day

    Community health centers - OK choice for short / long term depending on your personality. You need a lot of patience to practice here. I loved my job and the directors I worked for and the patients were fantastic. I worked in a tropical location and treated fishermen, cooks, housekeepers etc. Salary = around 120k f/t with housing allowance. 15-25 patients / day

    Corporate dentistry / Medicaid practices - OK only for very short term otherwise STAY AWAY. Medicaid is the government teet and is a terrible, awful practice philosophy. Hugh accountability and without proper protection or contracts, you can get caught in a billing error fraud that will destroy your license. Medicaid for children = ok, medicaid for adults = irresponsible. Salary = 120k+. 25-45 patients / day.

    Part time volunteer work - BEST option for true happiness long-term. Look into the ADA volunteer and local dental society volunteer networks. GKAS, mission work, or volunteer/work 1-3 days at a local community health center. Remember, you still have loans and bills to pay for when you get out of school that you aren't necessarily thinking of now. Working part time in private practice gives you that income while you can spend free time or schedule time during the week giving back to the less fortunate. I would rather give treatment away for free in private practice rather than participate in Medicaid networks.

    Hope this helps. I know the director of the community health center I worked at is always keeping an eye out for a great personality person to work where I was, feel free to PM me if you are looking for this type of work and I can give you more info.
     

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