What is the day to day schedule like for a military dentist?

Discussion in 'Military Dentistry' started by SexyMariGal, Mar 25, 2012.

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  1. SexyMariGal


    Oct 13, 2011
    I've been looking into the military HPSP route for funding dental school, since the tuition and associated costs of paying for school has skyrocketed. I'm not too keen on going to school and graduating with 200-300k or more in student loan debt. A lot of posts have stated about how it's not wise to go into the military just for the money, but 4 years of sacrifice to end up debt free with the bonus of 4 years of officer's pay is nothing to scoff at.

    My rationale is that it seems like I would be far ahead financially after those years in terms of being able to start up my own practice, start a family, etc., whereas I don't think very many graduates pay off all their loans in the same 4 year span. Yes, I would have to sacrifice 4 years of my time and freedom for the military, but this is grown up life now and sometimes you have to do things you don't like. This may delay other things in my life, such as the starting up my own practice or starting a family, but being able to have a debt free foundation seems like it would remove so much stress and worry.

    The only con I've seen as far as the professional side of the military from what I've read on here is that the majority of the dental work you'll be doing may not be those more complex cases you might see in residency or in the civilian side, and due to that fact your hand skills may deteriorate. I'm not sure if this is such a big deal when it comes time to separate from the military, but I'd imagine you can regain your skills and speed in due time. It still seems to be worth it from a financial aspect to me. Are there any other cons concerning the professional side of dentistry that I'm missing here?

    Anyway, what I wanted to know from those of you who are in the service or have been in the service, what was the typical day to day schedule like? I've read over many posts and answered questions, but they are generally very sparse in information without much important details. If you could post a breakdown, that would be super helpful, for example:

    6AM - Wake up
    7AM - Get to office
    8AM - etc, etc.

    I know things are different for when you are deployed too, and I had some questions about that. One army dentist talked about spending all your time in the back of a truck? I'm not sure what he was talking about, but does that mean he was doing dentistry in the back of a truck? I couldn't imagine that being like part of an infantry group in the back of the truck roaming patrol routes for IED's or something, or am I wrong? Is there much risk of bodily harm?

    Anyway, if you could talk about what your daily schedule was like while on deployment in the same fashion above, that would be greatly appreciated. I figured there would still be bases where you are deployed, and that you would still work in a clinic or something. Thank you for all the help and advice, and please note which branch you are talking about when you reply, I know they are very different from one another, especially when it comes to deployment.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
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  3. vellnueve

    vellnueve 10+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2006
    My hand skills have gotten significantly better since I joined the military, not worse. I'm not sure where you're getting that idea. The hand skills come from getting reps, not from doing necessarily more complicated procedures.

    I'm at a Navy shore clinic. Usually get up at 0500, get to work at 0645. See patients from 0700-1200, break for lunch, and then see patients from 1230-1530. Once a week there's usually an hour set aside for clinic-wide training.

    On ships at sea it depends on the department/ship, but one model I've heard, there is a morning session, 2 hours off for lunch/PT, an afternoon session, another 2 hours off, and then a shorter evening session of work.
  4. krmower

    krmower 7+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2008
    Currently - show up for clinic at 7:15 AM. See patients beginning at 7:30-11:15. Lunch 11:15-12:00. Patients until 4 pm. M-F.

    While deployed in Iraq M-F - see patients from 7 am - 12 noon lunch form 12 noon - 1 pm patients from noon-4 pm. Saturday 7-12. Closed on Sunday.
  5. AirborneDentist

    AirborneDentist 7+ Year Member

    May 15, 2009
    Ft. Huachuca, AZ
    A typical day is what Maj Mower described above. Deployed, it would not be uncommon to work until 8/9 pm...but that was an exception and not the norm for deployed dentists.

    The other thing to keep in mind in the military is how you are not always just doing dentistry. There are ce courses, training, meetings (sometimes) and other "non-dental" stuff that works well to break up your time. It will help with the monotony of just "doing dentistry."
  6. Clinic opens at 7:30am, see patients until 11:30. 11:30-12:30 lunch. Patient care from 12:30-4:30pm. Twice a year I have to take a PT test before work. I pull call here for 1 week about every 3-4 months. One time we had to stay after 4:30 for a unit wide urinalysis because an enlisted member's wife was found selling pot on the previous weekend. Best part is that when I go on leave or go home for the evening/weekend I don't have to think about the clinic if I don't want to, and rarely do I.

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