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Orthodontic Residency Program Length

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Guy Smiley

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As I have been to interviews, I have been to 2 year programs and to 3 year programs and everything in between. At 3 year programs, the residents all say 2 years isn't enough, and that you need the benefit of finishing cases you started. They also say there isn't enough time to learn all the didactics you need to really understand orthodontics. At the 2 year programs, the residents all say that they are more than competent and are ready to go when they get out. I just wanted to hear the opinion of current residents who aren't trying to sell me on their program during an interview. If you answer, would you please say how many years the program you attend is.

Thanks, and it has been great to meet so many wonderful residents at their respective programs on the interview trail. It's gonna be tougher than I thought it would be to do the rankings.
 

TipNTorque

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I am currently in a 2 year program now and personally I could not be happier I chose that route. After being in school so long, I am very anxious to be done with school and start my life. (just from a personal point of view).
When I was interviewing, I heard the same types of things. I think it strictly depends on how the program is structured as well, since each program is different and it is more than just simply picking a program based on length. As I am sure you have seen, some programs are 3 years but have very few classes.
In 2 year programs, you will NOT finish 90%+ of the patients you started, but you will finish cases. They will just not be your own cases. I think it is definitely a plus to be able to finish your cases, but will it make you a better orthodontist or more competent? Probably not.
As a side note, most programs that are less than 3 years - have become or are becoming 3 year programs. There is definitely more to teach and learn, and it can be hard to get all that information in 2 years.
In 2 year programs you MAY also be busier than other 3 year programs, b/c they are tossing more information to you in a shorter amount of time. I know I am not quite as busy as I was in dental school - but I do spend a lot of my week nights and weekends doing work.
Like I said before - you really need to look at each program individually when you rank them. I am sure you have noticed that some programs are stronger than others, regardless of the length of the program - and what is important to you in a program may not be as important to others (location, cost, didactic vs. clinical, research, craniofacial classes/cases, etc.)
 

silver7285

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I am currently in a two year ortho program as well, and did plenty of research on the subject. EVERY orthodontist has told me the same thing no matter who I ask. The answer is not your orthodontic training, but what you do once you start practicing. Residency provides you a foundation, a time to receive guidance and learn from others. You will see that some people will be proactive, and learn from the expertise that the faculty can teach you. Others will just go through the motions and change wires or do as someone tells them to do.
The majority of your learning comes from your experiences in practice. You see where you went wrong, what you can do to improve your results, and what appliances work best in your hands. Residency is a safety net. Most cases you start at the beginning of you residency are treatment planned for you! You may realize at the end, that you would of treated the case a completely different way.
I worked as a general dentist before I went back for my residency. Let me tell you, I didn't know anything when I started working. You learn by experience. One more year of residency does not provide you a better experience in thinking and treating cases yourself.
If you enjoy research and want to spend time in that field, then 3 years is a great idea. However, there is no way a 3 year resident "knows it all." Residency is what you take out of it, and then use that on the outside to think for yourself. My opinion is that whether it's 2 or 3 years, you will always be learning more. Why not at least get paid and forgo the 3rd year.
 

arthurlittle55

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I think you could be adequately trained in 24 months IF the program is well structured, and has enough (or better yet, an abundance) of faculty. There isn't much leeway to mess around... you need to start cases early, and have enough supervised chairtime to know what you're doing biomechanically. I think the amount of treatment planning experience you get in a 2yr and 3yr program are pretty similar, since the 3rd year focuses a little less on that aspect (in general).
 
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barbed wire

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Most residents at 3-year programs wish it was 2.5 years. Most residents at 2.5 year programs wish it was 2 years. And most residents at 2-year programs are glad they're not at a 3-year program. Again, this is assuming quality of the programs are on the same level.
 

WharfRat

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Personally, I wanted a 3 year program and I'm very happy I am in one. I don't think there is a difference between 2 and 3 year programs. You just have to decide what you want. I wanted a Masters degree and didn't want to cram that into 2 years. I also wanted to be able to finish the majority of the cases I start. At my program we finish 85-90 percent. Also with the new ABO rules I wanted to have plenty of cases to choose from for my board certification. I do think it would be nice to be done a year earlier and practicing, but the things I wanted to gain from my residency couldn't easily be done in 2 years.
 
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EVERY orthodontist has told me the same thing no matter who I ask. The answer is not your orthodontic training, but what you do once you start practicing. Residency provides you a foundation, a time to receive guidance and learn from others.
And I completely agree. I see more impacted canine cases in one day than I saw in the whole 2 years of my residency. The sooner you practice in the real world, the more experience you will get…..so go to a 2 year program:thumbup:. Also, try to rank the cheap program #1….the more $$$ you save, the less years you have to work as an associate and the sooner you can start your own practice.
 
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