Academic Vacancies Increasing at Today’s Dental Schools

Dentists have many professional options beyond opening their own practices. With 66 dental schools operating in the United States, academics affords many opportunities too, including a rising number of openings—particularly in clinical science. According to a survey by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), 47 of these schools reported at least one vacant budgeted or lost position during the 2015-2016 academic year—a 5.1% increase since 2010-2011.

There are many different reasons why there are more openings in today’s academic environment, such as the growing number of schools themselves, larger incoming class sizes, competition between the schools for talented faculty, and the benefits of private practice. Bryan J. Cook, PhD, senior vice president for educational research and analysis at the ADEA, recently shared his insights about the survey and where the profession is headed with Dentistry Today.

Q: The number of openings seem to be increasing, largely due to the opening of newer schools and expansion at current schools vacuum forming machine dental. What is driving this expansion?

A: Faculty vacancies have been increasing since 2008 due to a number of factors, including the opening of 10 new dental schools since 2008 and the “Great Recession” of 2007-2008, which forced many individuals actively considering retirement to delay. As the economy began to rebound, those individuals, along with new retirees, contributed to an overall rise in vacancies.

Q: Has there been an increase in the number of applicants at dental schools, and have dental schools expanded their class sizes in response?

A: Since 2008, dentistry has had a robust applicant pool that has remained fairly steady. Also since 2008, we have noted an increase in the number of first-year spots. The increase in first-year spots is due to the opening of 10 new dental schools as well as some existing dental schools electing to expand class size.

Q: The study noted that dental schools compete for faculty with a strong private sector. Would you characterize the current private sector for dentists as strong?

A: According to the most recent U.S. News & World Report survey (2017), 3 of the top 10 “100 Best Jobs” are in dentistry (dentist at No. 1, orthodontist at No dental scaling machine. 5, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon at No. 9). ADA data indicates that the average net income for private practice in 2015 was $179,960 for a general practitioner and $320,460 for a specialist. By comparison, total compensation for general dental faculty in 2015 was $150,000, and for faculty in one of 9 ADA-approved specialty areas, the average total compensation was $179,960.

Q: How have the dental schools been faring in this competition? Have they been relying on unique incentives for hiring?

A: Since 2011-2012, we have observed an increase in the number of new, full-time faculty coming from private practice. In 2011-2012, 21% of new full-time faculty had been in private practice. In 2015-2016, 25% of new faculty were drawn from the private sector contra angle handpiece. While individual schools may certainly use unique strategies for recruiting new faculty, nothing in our data suggests any widespread change in how dental schools recruit new faculty

Q: What kinds of development programs do schools have for promoting academic careers?

A: While some schools provide academic career programs, the ADEA does not regularly track types of development programs. A number of programs exist within the ADEA that promote and enhance academic careers. These include ADEA Chapters for Students, Residents and Fellows; the ADEA Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program; ADEA scholarships, awards, and fellowships for dental educators; and ADEA Leadership Institute Phase V Leadership Development Tuition Scholarships.

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