Dental school or Optometry??

Discussion in 'Pre-Dental' started by lisabeth13, 05.17.14.

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  1. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I've been shadowing a Dentist for a couple of weeks and I really love it but recently I've been thinking a lot about Optometry school. However, all the forums I've been reading on Optometry were very discouraging and made me think maybe I should just stick to Dentistry.

    Could anyone in either of these fields tell me how the market is, are they becoming too saturated? Are larger corporations running the private practices into the ground? I'm a non-traditional student so I know I need to make a decision fairly soon and I don't want to choose something that will be more trouble for me in the long run. Which do you think would be more financially stable? If you are a dentist or an optometrist...would you still choose the same path if you could do it over again?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. PostDocCain

    PostDocCain

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    The job market for dentists and optometrists are good, people are always talking about saturation but there are a GOOD AMOUNT of jobs for these two professions but ultimately a lot of them are in places no one really wants to go to (ND,SD,MN,ID,WY etc.). You can make good money although money should not be why you 100% want to be in either of these professions.

    Saturation is a problem in areas where there are dental schools and all the places people dream of living. For example you start talking about SoCal and much warmer places and saturation is everywhere for reasons that we all know.

    Getting a job in either field is more competitive in certain areas but there are jobs out there. Talk with a few dentists and opts and just shadow the two professions and talk with your support system to make a good decision.

    I also thought about Optometry at one point too but I hated studying about the retina, lens and everything else associated with the eye so I knew that optometry really wasnt for me and I had more personal experiences in dentistry.

    SN: There are discouraging post everywhere. If you go to the medical forums theres folks talking about not being able to match into residency so dont go into medicine, you come over to dental forums and u see the threads about DS being too expensive and thats why you should do something else.

    Whatever you do though just stop and think if you could get up 5 or 6 days a week and passionately do the job and be happy at the same time. A person who really wants to be a dent. or opt. would not let discouraging posts get to them.

    Let this and other posts sit in and I hope you come to a decision that best suites you!
     
  4. BobbyBeavis

    BobbyBeavis 2+ Year Member

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    You say you have been thinking about Optometry School, and I just wanted to make sure you have experience there. If you have, then in comparison with Dentistry and Optometry, which did you enjoy better?

    As for the other questions, I cannot help you answer because I still have the PRE in my name :)
     
  5. sgv

    sgv ...crumbling 2+ Year Member

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    they're totally different...
     
  6. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    Yes... I am aware of this. Thank you for pointing this out...

    Thank you for all the info. Money is obviously not my primary motivator for either profession...however, I know how much debt I will end up having with both. I just want to make sure whichever one I choose, I'll be able to get a job and pay my loans back in a reasonable amount of time. Which is why I was asking about someone else's experience with this.

    When I say "discouraging", I probably should've clarified further. A lot of people were mentioning how Optometry is saturated and how larger companies (wal-mart, lens crafters...etc) were really hurting the private practices. I'm trying to be realistic about this at the end of the day. There's just some professions that are very saturated and aren't wise to pursue. At least for right now. I will definitely be choosing one...so I'm not letting anyone "get to me".

    I was just hoping someone could offer insight as to which one would be more financially stable. And please, don't take that as "I just want money". That is not the case at all. I really do enjoy both professions. I don't want to choose one, only to find out at the end of school that the profession is saturated and I won't be able to find a job, while being 300k+ in debt and can't pay it off in the next 10 years. I'd rather be realistic about it now and save myself some heartache down the road.
     
  7. Datooth

    Datooth 2+ Year Member

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    Unless you're confident you can get into your state school, its going to take you a lot longer than 10 years to get rid of DS loans.
     
  8. Gutiesc

    Gutiesc 2+ Year Member

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    How long have you been shadowing a dentist? If it has only been a couple of days, give it a few more weeks. From all of the people who are pre-dental (to include myself) and dentists that I have both worked with and shadowed, they had a feeling or they just knew that it was the profession they wanted to pursue. When I realized this for myself, the debt is intimidating but I equated it to paying for my happiness...does that make sense? Almost like someone asking me how much I would pay to have my dream career.

    Let that concept mull around in your head and also find time to shadow an Optometrist. Trust me, when you get that feeling, you'll know right away.

    If Dentistry works out, we'll be here ;)
     
  9. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I was just throwing that out as an example. I have been shadowing a Dentist and I asked him on average how long it takes students to pay back loans...he said some take significantly longer than other but if you work full time (without extravagant purchases, of course), it could be done in 7 years. He mentioned most dentists he's met took around 12 years. Obviously there are many factors that could make this more/less. 10 was just an example.

    I've been shadowing a dentist for about a month now. I know a lot of dental schools require around ~50 (or more) hours of shadowing. I have done some shadowing with an optometrist as well. I could definitely see myself being happy with both...I'm just worried that private optometry practices aren't going to be as successful as they once were with all these bigger corporations taking over.
     
  10. sgv

    sgv ...crumbling 2+ Year Member

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    You should probably stay in optometry. You cannot like both. One is physically demanding, requires the minute accuracy of < 0.20 mm (it's actually not that hard if using loupes), and involves a multitude of operative procedure requiring training beyond those four years of dental school through CE courses. The other flips switches. A very small selection of the population would actually enjoy working with such small dimensions with indirect mirror vision while being hunched over a 3 inch orifice all day. Most people by default like simple jobs that won't overwhelm their capacity. I don't know of anyone who thinks optometrists lead a very physically demanding, complicated, day to day work life -- that's why optometry is attractive. Since you can't see the difference between the two, you're probably one of the simple types. Look at the questions that you've been asking. They're all about money. Clearly, you are not interested in the job description as much as the salary. It's easy to hate this job [dentistry] and hate coming to work so you better like this job more than anything else. To make your matters more complicated, the lifestyle of a dentist who went a private school is going to be different from the lifestyle of a dentist from a cheap state school. Statistically, everyone, including you, who applies is more likely to end up at a private school than at a cheap state school. The two job descriptions were night and day to me and I had no problem avoiding optometry from the get go. It was a clear decision and none of my dental school friends considered optometry as an alternative profession. They're too obviously different!
     
    Last edited: 05.19.14
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  11. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    Since I have shadowed at both...I can assure you that I do see the difference. I think it's a little small minded of you to assume that someone would only enjoy one particular profession for the rest of their life. I enjoy and appreciate many different careers, each for their own unique qualities. Why do you think SO many people change their majors several times in college or even change their career path later in life? It's amazing if you know from the start exactly what you want to do with life but many others don't. I've had physically demanding jobs since I was 16 so that is not an issue. I do enjoy working with small dimensions, as I am very detail oriented and enjoy tedious tasks. Keep in mind...I mentioned that I am a non-traditional student...so I've had PLENTY of time to consider what I want to do.

    Also...you are straying from my original question. I'm not asking for advice on which would be a more fulfilling job, I will figure out which I am more passionate about in my own time. What I was asking...preferably from an optometrist in PP...is if the field is becoming saturated or over run by larger corporations. I'm really not sure why this is such a difficult question to answer.
     
  12. sgv

    sgv ...crumbling 2+ Year Member

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    well then clearly you're asking in the WRONG forum...maybe that's you're having difficulty finding an answer.

    Go find me some people in dental school who were once deciding between optometry and dentistry (not someone in optometry school who was once deciding between dentistry and optometry)...
     
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  13. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    A previous poster already mentioned they considered optometry and ultimately chose dentistry. I am asking on this forum because my original plan was dentistry. I am also looking for a practicing dentist to give me some insight as to how their business is going and if they feel it is saturated (reason #2 I have posted here). The dentist I am currently shadowing is the only practicing dentist in that particular city so his business is doing well. So again...the main thing I would like to know is if either of these professions are saturated or if they are supposed to continue doing well? I'm not asking for advice on which to choose. But rather which is more financially stable? And by that, I don't mean: "which will bring in tons of money so I can live an extravagant lifestyle?" I mean...which one will help me pay off my loans and at least have a decent enough income to support a family, without continuing to further my debt outrageously.

    If you read my first post, then you would've seen that I was asking about both fields, not just optometry.
     
    Last edited: 05.17.14
  14. sgv

    sgv ...crumbling 2+ Year Member

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    There're too many variables. Are you competitive enough to get into a state school? Are you going to be efficient when you get out? Are you going to live in a saturated area? Are you going to work for someone else? Are you going to target medicare and medicaid patients? Do patients like you?
     
  15. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    Yes, there are a lot of variables. And maybe even in the most saturated field, someone could still stumble upon an amazing job. As a whole, there are certain fields that are becoming very saturated, making jobs/decent incomes hard to come by. I have no doubt, if you're an optometrist or dentist...willing to work in the middle of nowhere, you would probably do very well. I personally can't see myself or my fiance (a big time city man) living in a remote rural area. I don't necessarily want to set up shop smack in the middle of a city next to 5 other practices but maybe right outside of a city.
     
  16. Datooth

    Datooth 2+ Year Member

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    Ultimately, even if someone were to give you an answer, the landscape of the profession will be significantly different in 5 years (or whenever it is you graduate) for optometry and dentistry alike. The only real way to answer your question is to narrow down the cities you could see yourself living in and attempt to preempt the market by 4 years.
     
  17. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    Do you like teeth or eyes? I personally think eyes are way cool, and I have considered going into Medicine to be an Ophthalmologist. But lo and behold, I learned of a thing called "matching" into residency, and found out that there would a great chance that I wouldn't be able to preform eye surgery. However, I am now considering Dentistry because I think fixing people's teeth would be a pretty cool job too! I never really considered Optometry because I want to do something surgical.
     
  18. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    We would most likely be living in Toronto, Ontario. We aren't ruling out the U.S. but it's not likely. I will probably end up in a school here but then relocating to Toronto after. And I know the market would likely be quite different there, since there aren't as many dental/optometry schools. If either are becoming saturated in the U.S. though, that may end up being a deciding factor as to whether or not we stay in the states.

    After shadowing, there's certain aspects I love about both. But like I mentioned before...I'm just worried that I'll end up choosing something that's very saturated and I'll wind up having a difficult time making ends meet. I guess I'm just hoping someone with this experience has some insight on which (as a whole) might be too saturated. Which would be better to steer clear of so I don't end up with so much debt I'm never able to pay it off?

    I think my question isn't coming across as I had planned. :sorry:o_O
     
  19. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    And let me reiterate... I am not asking for help in choosing which I would "like better"... As I've mentioned...I am very capable of making that decision on my own. I am not looking for someone to choose my career path. I am asking for advice on which one might be more financially stable and less saturated based on personal experience. I am trying to be realistic in this choice.

    It's great and wonderful to fantasize about choosing a career you love but if it's a dead end that will cause you to be forever in debt...is that really wise? Choosing a career that is known to be saturated...is kind of like gambling. Play all your cards right and you might just "win". But choosing one that you love just as much as the other...that isn't as much of a risk...is in my opinion...the smarter choice.

    I realize this is in the dental forum...so if any dentists would like to post about their experience in the market...it would be very helpful.

    If anyone is still confused, please read my first post...as I think my original question has gotten off topic. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: 05.18.14
  20. ICUrunning

    ICUrunning On the Iron Path 2+ Year Member

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    This is the PRE-dental forum. No one here has proper credentials to answer your original question. Likewise, everyone here has their hearts and minds set on dentistry as our career. You mentioned that you have shadowed both professions. If you have done so, then you should already have the answers to your question(s) as the practitioners would have answered them for you, right?

    Who do you think is going to know more about setting up a private practice, paying off loans, and saturation? Students getting ready to apply to dental school or opto school or practitioners in those fields whom you have stated you have already shadowed?
     
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  21. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    Well, you have a point. And I did post a similar question in the optometry forum. I probably should've posted this in the dental forum and not pre-dental. So I might just do that now. And again...the dentist and optometrist I shadowed are both in small rural cities. The dentist I shadowed is the only practicing dentist in a 35 mile radius. So yes, they are both doing well. The dentist didn't seem to think there was a problem with saturation in dentistry...however, being that he has no competition...I think his opinion is a little biased. He also graduated in 1970 and I'm just not sure he's aware of the rest of the country. So I came here hoping to get thoughts/opinions from people in other states/cities. But you are correct, I should've posted it on the dental forum. I automatically went to this forum since I am currently a pre-dental major.

    Also, for people going into the business of working with people...there sure is a lot of anger and rudeness on these forums... *sigh*
    Can't we all just get along???
     
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  22. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    Oh trust me, it's WAY worse in Pre-Allo. I seriously can't believe some of the arguments that people will get into(myself included). After hovering around those threads for over a year now, it's not hard for me to see why so many doctors are miserable. Everyone in the Pre-Dental threads seem to be a lot nicer!

    I think the pre-reqs for Dental and Optometry are pretty similar, so that probably won't be a problem. Did you ask the Optometrist that you shadowed if he thought saturation was an issue? Please don't take my word from this, as I am just a college Sophomore, but from what I have read it seems like over-saturation is in the following order: Pharmacy>Optometry>Dentistry>Medicine. So basically if you go into Medicine, you should have no problem finding a job since they are in high demand. However, it seems like you could still get a job in Optometry or Dentistry if the location is right(no big cities). Again, take whatever I said with a grain of salt because I'm 18 haha.
     
    Last edited: 05.18.14
  23. ICUrunning

    ICUrunning On the Iron Path 2+ Year Member

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    I was reading the doctors houses thread in pre-allo the other day and those premeds were ripping you a new one. I thought your avatar looked familiar. Keep doing what youre doing brah. Haters gonna hate. Not many people have a resume like yours even though they claim "maturity" just because theyre older so they think they know more.
     
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  24. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    Thanks man, it means a lot! I try and not let it get to my head too much. Kind of sucks though, because I was posting in another thread and the same guy started replying to my comments and making fun of me. I was just thinking, "Seriously? You're a Dermatologist and yet you don't have anything better to do than harass me on an online forum?". Whatever, I guess some people find their fulfillment in life by acting like this....... it wouldn't surprise me if he finds me in these threads. Anyways, best of luck to you and all of your future endeavours!
     
  25. ramborhino

    ramborhino 2+ Year Member

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    . wrong thread
     
  26. Roosevelt

    Roosevelt

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    3-4 days passionately:cigar:
     
  27. Roosevelt

    Roosevelt

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    How are the lifestyles from a dentist from a state school and an expensive private school differ?
     
  28. Glimmer1991

    Glimmer1991 SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    This entirely depends on how smart a person is with money and how long they are willing to "delay gratification" in order to lower their loan balance.
     
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  29. Illfavor

    Illfavor 2+ Year Member

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    I would amend this and say that it depends entirely on the ambition of the person. Making $120,000/yr for a decade won't make a dent. Becoming a successful small business owner will.
     
  30. Jaesango

    Jaesango 2+ Year Member

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    During college, I was on the fence about whether to be an optometrist or a dentist too. I spent my junior year shadowing 2 different optometrists, and several dentists in my senior year.

    Here's what I realized from my experiences:
    Both optometrists I shadowed were struggling to get patients in their doors. One owned her own practice through leasing a small office from Sears and she would give exams to patients and then refer them to the sears optical employee who would then try to sell them glasses. Even though she didn't make any commission off the sales of the glasses, she was still required to encourage patients to buy from sears (or risk getting kicked out if the sales of glasses were too low/mo - so much for being your own boss eh?). The other, opened his own private practice. He was competing with many different optometrists...one office was literally right across the street. Of course, you'll face that degree of competition whether you are in dentistry or optometry (if it is a place that's at least somewhat desirable to live). Both optometrists seemed like they were struggling and I'm certain they weren't making >100k. One flat out told me, and the other...I could kind of guess because I was the one in charge of making phone calls for patients to set up appointments and whenever I would go volunteer/shadow on a saturday, she would have maybe 5 patients that day...but keep in mind that these were all just eye exams...$50 a pop. One time, all her patients canceled for that day and I sat there for 4 hours not shadowing a single patient. Watching both of them made me very nervous about getting into optometry. Even the scope of work they performed seemed extremely limited. Adcoms and other pre-optometrists will tell you that new laws are made everyday to expand the optometrists' scope of practice. However, I think that's all bull crap. 99% of what they do are purely eye exams. If someone has anything seriously wrong with their eyes, they go to an ophthalmologist....which you CANNOT BE (as far as i'm concerned) as an optometrist because you have to go to med school for that.

    Then...I started shadowing dentists. No matter which dentist, what location (in SoCal), they were all pretty wealthy, and seemed quite happy. Sure, they would complain about how much their back hurts and how physically demanding of a job it is, but it sure hell beats waiting for patients to walk through the door all the time and worrying about people canceling on you. The main dentist I shadowed would tell me something new he bought every single week. Now, of course you will find dentists struggling and you will also find optometrists making a killer living.

    I want to stress that this was MY experience and obviously is not the definitive answer to the optometrist vs. dentistry dilemma. However, I encourage you to really think about more than just "passion". You should take a step back and look at other things such as finance, stress, quality of life, etc. Not being able to support yourself can quickly turn your "passion" into something you absolutely abhor.
     
  31. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is exactly the point I've been trying to make. I don't want to go into something with 'blinders' on. It's nice to fantasize about that "dream job" but if it's constantly a major struggle, then is it really worth it? Everyone says, do what you love and everything will work itself out. But I think that's being a little naive. I'd rather choose a career, knowing I did my research, I was realistic, and something that will at least be financially stable. Any extra money would be nice but I'm not in it for that...whichever I decide to choose. I just don't want to be in so much debt that I can't bring myself out of it. I'd really love to travel and do missionary work so the extra money would end up going towards that goal...if the opportunity came up.

    Of course, I know there's no possible way to know for sure what the market for optometry (or dentistry) will be like in the next 5-10 years. But honestly, if it's saturated now...IMO, I think it will be for awhile.

    Dentist is #3 on this list...while optometrist didn't even make the cut. o_O I know...this list may not be 100% accurate or a good indicator of what's to come...but maybe dentistry is the better route?
    http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs?page=6

    Anyway, sounds like you had a pretty rough experience shadowing. As I mentioned in previous posts, my optometrist I've been seeing since I was a kid is in a very small town and has been there for years so he and his associates (I think 3 of them own it now?) are well established and doing great. This is probably a rare case and it seems like many recent grads might struggle to find a place of their own.
     
  32. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    I was on this site a few years ago under a different name (which I've forgotten or it's been deleted one? :wacky:) and it seems that people aren't getting any nicer. It's beyond me how some of these people get into a career where the entire concept is to be compassionate, understanding and to educate others. I think there's too many people going into these careers for the money. It's really sad.

    I did...and being that he's older, in a small city, with no real competition (yet!), he didn't seem to think it was an issue. I basically got the same response from the dentist I am currently shadowing. I think I need to talk to some younger people though because these guys don't seem to be up-to-date with the rest of the world. I've almost reached 50 hours with the dentist so I will probably try to find somewhere else to go for another 50 hours. I'd like to get more opinions and see how another dentist does things.
     
  33. Jaesango

    Jaesango 2+ Year Member

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    No problem! Glad I could help. I think you should try shadowing a recent grad (opt and dent) who's parents DON'T own their own practice. Usually those students get hand-me-down spots and salaries so they are less inclined to feel the reality of the situation. Dentistry IS the most expensive health field to get into because of the ridiculous tuition price. Your best bet is to get a scholarship either through the military or some other sources.
     
  34. lisabeth13

    lisabeth13

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    Yes, I think I will do that. :) Just out of curiosity...what did you end up deciding?
     
  35. Jaesango

    Jaesango 2+ Year Member

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    Dentistry ;) and I'm very sure I made the right choice. If I had chosen optometry I would be wondering, "What if..." all the time until I start in august.
     
  36. DocJL

    DocJL 5+ Year Member

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    So where are you in your application process? Have you gotten into dental school?

    I am a private practice dentist. Spent 4 years as a Navy Dental Officer, then several years associating both corporate and private practice, before buying my own practice - let me know if I can offer any insight.

    Right off the bat though, I will say that I think Dentistry is a much more rewarding career in most ways. Financially being a big part of that.

    I understand the lines about "I just want to be a doctor/dentist/optometrist/lawyer, etc because I LOVE the profession!" in terms of what you need to say to the admissions committee and in your essay and interview, but it's ridiculous to claim that finances are not a MAJOR part of any career decision. This is why, IMO, so many recent college grads can't get a job in this crap economy, because they decided to "follow their hearts" and study history or social work.......
     
    Last edited: 07.23.14
  37. maxilofacial

    maxilofacial

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    I have to agree.
     
    Last edited: 07.23.14
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  38. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    "Financially being a big part of that." I have no idea how old you are, but I can likely guess that you don't have 300k in dental student loans. Would you still make that statement if you did have that amount to pay back? I am being slowly conditioned that dentistry might not be as lucrative from the financial standpoint due to rising tuition and the increasing difficulty in opening up a private practice. The lifestyle still appeals a bunch to me, as does the surgical nature of the work, but I am just worried that Medicine could be a better investment now.
     
  39. musician7

    musician7 2+ Year Member

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    Status:
    Pre-Dental
    Before I chose to be predental, I was gonna try optometry.. My optometrist is awesome and amazing so I asked to shadow him. He was like "yea sure anytime!! Although you know what would be great to do? Being a PA or a DENTIST"

    Lol!
     
  40. DocJL

    DocJL 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    01.07.11
    Messages:
    332
    Status:
    Dentist
    Not sure why you felt the need to challenge my statement or bring age into it?

    I am at a stage in my career where I have NO student loans, and I own my practice. Still owe a LOT on my home, and right now my focus is retirement savings, along with saving for kids college (and currently paying for private school). I graduated with only 50k in loans in the late nineties, but this was largely because Uncle Sam paid for much of my education, for which I gave up 6 years of my life as an enlisted soldier before college, and 4 years of my life as a navy dental officer after dental school. I also lived like a pauper during my college and dental school years. No silver spoon here.

    I understand that dental school tuition has skyrocketed, especially at the newer "pay to play" schools, but it also seems many are less willing to live as frugally as past generations of dental students. Throughout my entire college and dental school I lived either in the cheapest dorms, or in the cheapest dumpiest off campus apartments in high crime areas. I drove a crappy car, lived off of coupons and ramen, and shopped at goodwill and TJ Maxx.



    My statement has NOTHING to do with any of that. Dentistry IS a higher paying medical field than optometry.

    However, because of the huge increase in both dental school graduates (new dental schools AND larger class sizes at established schools), the future is NOT as bright as it once was.

    Still a great career field, with a good guaranteed minimum income (pretty hard for any dentist, even a new grad, to make LESS than 120k a year), but much like optometry seems to be suffering from an oversupply of providers, we too are going that route.
     
  41. maxilofacial

    maxilofacial

    Joined:
    06.01.14
    Messages:
    50
    Podiatry is also a good option.
     

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