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Nepal dental school seeks instructors for new Health Volunteers Overseas project

Dr. Hollander's favorite mountain in Nepal is Ama Dablam, pictured here.

Dr. Hollander’s favorite mountain in Nepal is Ama Dablam, pictured here.

Any interest in teaching in Nepal?

The ADA News is reporting that a dental education project in Dhulikhel, Nepal, is seeking volunteers to teach this fall under the auspices of Health Volunteers Overseas, Dhulikhel Dental School and Kathmandu University School of Medicine.

“They want to improve the dental education that they provide the students,” said Dr. Brian Hollander, project director. “Our volunteers will work with both the students and the faculty in helping them improve their knowledge and teaching techniques. Their goal is to produce excellent dentists. It’s a pretty interesting partnership. HVO just launched the project last month. We’ve already had quite a bit of interest. I’m very excited about this program.”

Dr. Dashrath Kafle, left, and Dr. Hollander stand overlooking the dental school at Dhulikhel Hospital. Dr. Kafle is a professor at the school and the HVO project's local contact.

Dr. Dashrath Kafle, left, and Dr. Hollander stand overlooking the dental school at Dhulikhel Hospital. Dr. Kafle is a professor at the school and the HVO project’s local contact.

The first volunteer is going to Nepal in April. The project needs volunteers for placement between September and mid-November.

Infection control and hygiene; training for dental assistants and hygienists; dental laboratory techniques; finishing orthodontic cases to American Board of Orthodontics standards; oral pathology and oral medicine are among the requested focus areas for volunteers. Academic support in oral medicine and oral pathology has also been requested.

The program needs academic support in oral medicine and oral pathology and training in four-handed dentistry for the dental nurses and assistants.

Volunteers must be fully trained general dentists, specialists and/or board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons who hold a current license to practice. Assignments are for a minimum of two weeks.

To read the full story, click here.

New Dentist Conference Joins ADA 2015 – America’s Dental Meeting

The ADA is pleased to announce that for the first time, the New Dentist Conference will be held at the ADA annual meeting from November 5-10 in Washington, D.C.

New Dentist Conference 2015Features of the New Dentist Conference include:

  • Shark Tank co-star Daymond John as keynote speaker.
  • Exclusive, interactive educational offerings.
  • High-level networking opportunities with leadership and peers.
  • New Dentist reception and lounge.
  • Significantly reduced hotel rates.
  • A chance to give back at the ADA Mission of Mercy.
  • We encourage you to share this information with any dentists who have been out of school for ten years or less as this is an experience they won’t want to miss.

Registration for the New Dentist Conference at ADA 2015 opens May 13 — a full week earlier than general registration! For more information, visit ADA.org/NDC.

Take action on dental student debt

2014 Dental Student Loan DebtDid you know the average dental school graduate in 2014 carries $247,227 in student loan debt, up from $221,000 in 2013? While this debt may not be the sole factor in determining whether a new dentist will choose a career of private practice over public service, 61 percent of graduating seniors say it does influence their decision.

The infographic uses data gathered by the American Dental Education Association.  Please take action now and contact your representative about this important issue, please visit ADA.org/Engage.

Medicaid challenges and rewards: One new dentist’s experience

Dr. Chris Hasty, vice chair of ADA’s New Dentist Committee, weighs the challenges and “rewarding” experiences with accepting Medicaid in his practice and says, “As new dentists, we should want to see the Medicaid system fixed and functional.”

Dr. Hasty

Dr. Hasty

We asked Dr. Hasty for his thoughts on accepting Medicaid patients.

He offered a litany of “frustrations” with the system, which includes low reimbursement rates, bureaucratic hoops, closed networks, burdensome filing requirements, limited covered procedures, down coding, endless paperwork and RAC audits, “which is not only aggravating for the provider but very stressful and time consuming.”

“A truly functional and fair Medicaid system is not a bad thing,” said Dr. Hasty. “In addition, as long as the system is fixed and functional, dentistry will be able to decide its fate and role. Sure it is not glamorous, but you do learn valuable lessons from accepting Medicaid.”

“Medicaid provides a consistent influx of patients into your practice. This is the real world. You have a steady stream of patients to help you build your speed, work out of multiple chairs and check hygiene at the same time.

“I used my experiences with my Medicaid patients to determine what I truly like in dentistry, and maybe more importantly what I truly did not like. In addition, when the Medicaid system is functional you can depend on your reimbursement to be in the bank in a timely pattern.

However, one must be very careful to limit the amount of Medicaid in his/her practice. A practice too dependent on Medicaid is very vulnerable to outside influences affecting the growth and sustainability of the practice. One significant fee decrease can cause a practice to close its doors if it becomes too dependent on Medicaid.

“I believe that we, as new dentists, should support the ADA’s effort for Medicaid reform. With the number of graduates entering the workforce today, there will always be providers able to continue dental care to these patients even as others drop off the system. In addition there is a sense of satisfaction providing care to a child whose only hope for dental care came with the Medicaid card he or she brought in. It is very rewarding seeing a child that did not have a chance at good oral health grow into a young adult with good oral health because of a system that was fair to the participant and the provider.”

For more information on increasing provider participation in Medicaid, click here.

Volunteers sought for dental mission to Jamaica

Organizers of a dental mission to St. Thomas, Jamaica, need dental volunteers for the Aug. 2-8 event.

Zion Care International’s charitable work projects promote and help preserve the health, welfare and physical well-being of people in need. The organization, which assists and empowers poor people throughout Jamaica and the world, seeks dentists, assistants and technicians for the summer mission.

A group airfare rate will be arranged. Volunteers will be responsible for their own hotel accommodations at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston as well as their own ground transportation.

For more information and volunteer forms, visit zioncareinternational.org or contact Bishop Craig Brown via email at Bishopatzion@aol.com.

To find other international volunteer opportunities, visit the ADA Foundation’s International Volunteer Website at
internationalvolunteer.ada.org.

UIC dental student receives MLK scholarship

Mr. Dante Brown

Mr. Dante Brown

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry announced it awarded third-year UIC dental student Dante Brown a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship program was established at UIC in 1985 to recognize outstanding minority UIC students, such as African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, who have demonstrated high academic achievement in fields in which they are underrepresented and who have shown strong commitment to community and campus service.

Mr. Brown, who noted he was mentored by his own dentist, Dr. Edward Ruiz, a 1987 graduate of the dental school, applied for the scholarship in 2014.

To qualify for the scholarship an undergraduate must have a minimum 4.0 GPA. Graduate and professional students must also show a record of high academic achievement. Brown was awarded the professional level scholarship of $5,000.

When not in class, Mr. Brown provides free dental services at Community Health-West Town, Goldie’s Place and to homeless individuals in the community. In addition to his community service, Mr. Brown serves as treasurer of the UIC chapter of the Student National Dental Association, and is an active member of the UIC chapter of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry.  He also works to help others in his spare time.

“I tutor on campus and am one of the teachers for the post-baccalaureate Dental Anatomy course,” he noted.
After his graduation in May of 2016, Mr. Brown has well defined goals.

“I plan to practice general dentistry for a few years, complete my Masters’ in Public Health, and then consider residency programs in dental public health,” he said.

With student loans, consider options in repayment strategy

Dr. Timothy Oh

Dr. Timothy Oh

Dr. Timothy Oh, of Ellsworth, Maine, graduated from dental school in 2008 with over $300,000 in student debt — a mixture of federal and private loans from various lenders, along with an education loan acquired prior to dental school.

“I feel student loan debt is one of the most serious burdens facing today’s graduates,” said Dr. Oh, New Dentist Committee District 1 representative.

He received some help from the Finance Authority of Maine, a state-based financial aid program. He received $80,000 in loan assistance for treating patients at a nonprofit clinic in an underserved and rural area for four years.

“The grant enabled me to get started with my loans,” Dr. Oh said. “But I was still left with a six-figure loan.”

The average dental student in the class of 2014 left school with about $247,000 in student loan debt, according to the American Dental Education Association.

For new dentists seeking ways to ease the burden of staggering student loan debt, there are options — such as loan consolidation, refinancing and government base repayment programs — that are worthy of consideration as part of a repayment strategy. But like all major financial decisions, they come with advantages and drawbacks.

Consolidations vs. refinancing

Federal loan consolidation combines multiple government-sponsored loans into just one loan. It takes the weighted average interest rate of the loans being combined.

Refinancing is when a borrower applies for a loan under new terms, and uses that loan to pay off one or more existing student loans. Unlike consolidation, refinancing is only available from private lenders. Interest rates are not based on a weighted average of the existing loans’ rates. Instead, a private lender will typically use a borrower’s credit score and other financial information to provide a new interest rate on the consolidated loan.

Consolidation: Pros, cons

One good reason to consolidate federal loans is convenience: There is only one loan, one loan servicer, one payment and one place to file forms.

Dr. Oh consolidated a “batch” of his student loans to reduce the number of monthly checks he had to write. Consolidating federal loans also allows borrowers to convert former nondirect loans to direct loans. Only direct loans (Stafford, Grad PLUS and Federal Consolidation Loans borrowed through the federal government’s Direct Loan Program) are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Also, repayment terms may be extended to 30 years, which lowers monthly payments but adds to total repayment costs if it takes the full 30 years to repay.

Drawbacks in consolidating federal loans include a lengthy and cumbersome process (may take 60-90 days), potential for a slightly higher interest rate (interest rate on consolidation loans is a “weighted” rate of all loans being consolidated, rounded up an eighth of a percent then fixed for the life of the loan) and loss of grace periods on loans being consolidated if students consolidate too early.

Refinancing: Pros, cons

Even before graduating from dental school, Dr. Adam Shisler, a pediatric dentist in Houston, had decided to refinance his loans, about $241,000, all of which were Federal Stafford Loans.

Dr. Shisler

Dr. Shisler

In spring 2014, he began the application process to refinance his loans through SoFi, a peer-to-peer lender based in San Francisco. Refinancing can help borrowers pay lower interest rates on their student loans, thus saving thousands of dollars throughout the life of the loan, though it comes with some risks as well. Similar to taking out a mortgage, borrowers can choose between a fixed rate loan and a variable rate loan, or both.

Fixed rate loans typically have higher rates than variable rate student loans but will remain the same over the life of the loan. Variable rate student loans generally are lower but may change, including the risk of going up, on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Dr. Shisler said he was approved for a five year, fixed rate loan in an accelerated repayment program, lowering his interest rate from 6.8 percent to 4.3 percent — saving him about $70,000 in interest.

However, there aren’t many lenders that will include federal loans as part of a refinancing plan. Dr. Shisler found only three to four other institutions that would refinance his loans.

As for disadvantages, graduates who refinance federal student loans will lose many of the benefits that come with federal loans, such as loan forgiveness and income-based repayment programs. If there is hardship, a dentist won’t be able to apply to defer monthly payments.

Federal, state loan repayment options

Federal and state programs offer student loan repayment assistance, often in exchange for services in a health care shortage area.

Federal options include programs sponsored by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Veteran Affairs, U.S. Public Health Service, National Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service and more. States have their own programs — such as the FAME program that Dr. Oh participated in — that are independent of the federal programs.

“(FAME) is a competitive program, with an extensive application and interview process,” said Dr. Oh.

In addition, many dental schools and advanced education programs may have financial assistance and loan repayment options. Contact your school’s financial aid office for more information.

Research and resources

Dr. Oh recommends that dentists conduct research before signing up for a repayment program. He is now considering refinancing as a next move.

“I just started talking to companies about refinancing and haven’t made a decision,” he said. “It’s sometimes too depressing to think about, but there are options that can help.”

In addition, Dr. Shisler said the most important thing a soon-to-be dental school graduate or new dentist can do before making any decisions is to go on a fact-finding mission on the status of their loans.

“They need to ask, ‘Where are all my loans from?’ ‘Are they subsidized, unsubsidized?’ ‘What are the interest rates for each of them?’ ‘What is their loan health?’” said Dr. Shisler. “Know your loans before applying because you’ll need that information in your application.”

For more information on consolidation and refinancing, visit the Center for Professional Success here. You can also find information at ADA.org/student. ADEA also

has educational debt management materials at ADEA.org.

ISDS hosts annual new dentist education, networking event

The Illinois State Dental Society hosted its annual “The Event: Envision, Entice, Engage” on March 12 in Springfield, Illinois. The Event is designed to bring together new dentist leaders from across Illinois for education and networking.

New dentists also could meet with the ISDS Board of Trustees, which meets in conjunction with the Event.

Here are some photos from the event.

ISDS

Drs. Lauren Hood-Olson, Lindsey Yates (national NDC rep), Samantha Arnold, Kate Buskirk, Kylea Tibbs-Hnizdo take a group selfie during ISDS’ annual “The Event: Envision, Entice, Engage” event held March 23.

Drs. Lauren Hood-Olson, Lindsey Yates (national NDC rep), Samantha Arnold, Kate Buskirk, Kylea Tibbs-Hnizdo take a group selfie during ISDS’ annual “The Event: Envision, Entice, Engage” event held March 23.

Drs. Rebecca Testa, Mark Ryan, Kristin Tussing

Drs. Rebecca Testa, Mark Ryan, Kristin Tussing

(From left) Jessica Moon, her husband Dr. Brenden Moon (Illinois NDC chair), Dr. Hillarie Hudson and Dr. Sharon Molitoris.

(From left) Jessica Moon, her husband Dr. Brenden Moon (Illinois NDC chair), Dr. Hillarie Hudson and Dr. Sharon Molitoris.

I’m a new associate dentist…what does the ADA do for me?

From supplying life insurance, advice on which board to take, and resources to make your CV shine; the ADA has many benefits to offer. In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on what the ADA can do for the recent graduate as well as a dentist entering an associate or partnership position. This was myself a few years ago. Unfortunately I was unaware of these items below that the ADA offered; however, I would have utilized almost all of them. Hopefully the resources that I go over in this issue will be useful to you — the new dentist!

Dr. Sinclair

Dr. Sinclair

Classifieds

Finding a job after graduation was much harder than I originally anticipated. During dental school I consistently heard about the rapid retiring rate of general dentists and the lack of new dentists entering the job scene creating a huge demand.

Well if you add in a recession and a few more dental schools opening up in the US, let’s just say jobs weren’t as plentiful as I initially believed.  Besides even if there were jobs out there, where was I supposed to look?  I had never seen a job posting for a dentist on the pages of monster.com or Craigslist.

Did you know that many state dental associations have their own classified section for dental jobs? While writing this article, I paused to take a moment to check out the listings. With the help of the Virginia Dental Association, I was able to view over 25 postings for general dentist jobs in almost every part of the state. This consolidated area of postings is a great way to see what positions are available as well as a fantastic resource for posting that CV you worked so hard on. Visit the VDA classifieds here. The ADA classifieds can be found here.

Contract resources

Congratulations! You’ve been offered a job, or maybe two or three. Well how do you know this contract agreement you are getting ready to sign is fair? Do you have a 5, 10, 20 mile non-compete, and do you know what that entails?

Just imagine if there was a non-compete clause in your contract that made and job locations in a 20-mile radius around your current employment location off limits. If this was the case, you could find yourself having a 30-45 minute commute for any future employment opportunities. How will you be paid on production, collections or salary? Are you going to be an employee or an independent contractor?  Are you or your employer responsible for paying lab fees? These are just some of the questions I had to answer looking over my initial contracts, and I was unfamiliar with almost all of these terms. Each one of these choices listed above has its own pros and cons, and that is where the ADA comes in.

The ADA has a free resource for members, “Dentist Employment Agreements: A Guide to Key Legal Provisions.” This document explains many of the terms and provisions common to dental employment agreements. The material is presented in a manner to help you consider and review a contract employment. You can also contact the ADA legal department for help understanding the language in your contract. However, remember this is not a substitute for legal advice or a lawyer’s review of your contract. That scenario above about a 20-mile non-compete creating a long commute happened to a fellow dentist.  I think that makes this one service by itself worth every penny of your ADA membership — at least from all the gas money you would save.

Ethics Hotline

Chances are after you have signed your employment contract you will end up working with at least one other dentist.  Many of these dentists have gone through very similar, if not the exact, training that you went through. What happens though if you start seeing shared patients, and you disagree with the recommended treatment plan? The first step would be to discuss the plan with the other dentist(s), but afterwards if you still feel as is if it excessive or unnecessary treatment where do you turn? The ADA created their Ethics Hotline (1.800.621.8099) for instances like this. The ethics hotline is place to discuss questionable issues that may arise in the day to day happening of a dental office in an anonymous environment. Personally I have never needed this, but I find it very comforting that the ADA offers this resource to its members.

Reduced Dues

One of the most common talked about items as a new dentist is the amount of debt that has been incurred. I, like many of you, had to take out student loans to cover the cost of my education as well as my living expenses. I read just the other day where the average dental student debt upon graduating is around $240,000. The ADA and its components understand this as well.  As a new dentist, the memberships rates are drastically reduced the first 5 years of practice and are even free the first year of practice. For more information, click here.

Being an associate can be very challenging and rewarding at the same time.  It will give you the opportunity to develop your speed and skills as a dentist while in many cases working with a mentor. Associateship will introduce you to the fellowship of dentistry that the ADA embodies.  I had the privilege of working alongside several great dentists in varying office environments during my associateships and call many of those dentists’ great friends today.

This blog post, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in the Virginia Dental Association journal. Dr. Cappy Sinclair is a New Dentist Now guest blogger and a 2009 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Sinclair currently serves on the Board of Trustees at the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, as member of 3M’s Council for Innovative Dentistry, and as an ambassador for the Dawson Academy. He started his own practice Coastal Cosmetic Dentistry 3 years ago from the ground up and is more than happy to share his success and failures with fellow new dentists. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Virginia Dental Association. To contact Dr. Sinclair, email him csinclair@smilevabeach.com.

ASDA elects 2015-16 executive committee, House speaker

Boston — The American Student Dental Association House of Delegates elected its 2015-16 national president, vice presidents and speaker of the House of Delegates at its Feb. 21 annual session.

ASDA Christian Piers, of University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, was elected president. Mr. Piers previously served as ASDA’s 2014-15 editor-in-chief and ex-officio member of ASDA’s Board of Trustees and also as Colorado ASDA chapter president. He is an ASDA liaison to the American Dental Association Council on Communications.

ASDA’s 2015-16 vice presidents are Adrien Lewis, of University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston, and Niveditha Rajagopalan, of Midwestern University, College of Dental Medicine-Illinois.

Ms. Lewis had served as president of the Baylor University Predental Club. She helped launch the first National Predental Week as associate and then chair of ASDA’s Council on Membership.

Ms. Rajagopalan served as ASDA’s 2014-15 speaker of the House of Delegates. She is also the ASDA liaison to the ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs.

Paula Cohen, of University of Florida College of Dentistry, was elected speaker of the House of Delegates. Ms. Cohen is the ASDA District 5 legislative chair and serves as her chapter’s vice president-elect, Professionalism Committee chair and legislative and advocacy liaison.