Finding a job in federal dentistry

Almost 5,000 dentists work for the U.S. Public Health Service, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or the military. Among the benefits with this professional choice:

  • a base salary
  • access to an assortment of nontaxable income and benefits
  • a competitive compensation package that grows with years of service and promotions
  • potential use of time to complete a residency or specialty program
  • access to continuing education and often an opportunity to expand skill levels in an environment not unlike a general practice residency

Capt. Sarah Wheeler shares insights about her lifestyle as a Dentist in the Air Force:

Lt. Sarita Ojha talks about serving in the Navy Dental Corps:

While you may already be familiar with the military and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (sometimes referred to as the VA), you may be less familiar with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are uniformed dental officers, serving in the Indian Health Service, U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Bureau of Prisons and the National Health Service Corps. While their uniforms are derived from the uniforms of the U.S. Navy, the Commissioned Corps is under the Department of Health and Human Services, overseen by the Surgeon General, rather than under the Department of Defense. While the Commissioned Corps is not an armed service, officers may have the opportunity to assist in public health responses to man-made and natural disasters. Officers receive the same benefits as their counterparts in the military.

Check out Federal Dental Services eNews, a quarterly ADA publication.

Find more information on these opportunities:

2 comments

  • DR ROBERT ALLEN

    The job situation is terrible right now. many older dentists have not prepared for retirement and are working longer. Large cities are saturated with dentists. Corporate owned practices are not as generous as they promise at the interview. Huge college debt prevent one from borrowing to open a free standing independent office. Not as much dental disease, so established, busy offices are not so busy as usual (high costs prevent them from hiring and expanding). Many new dental schools have opened in states where out of state dentist were formerly welcomed. Military, Department of Corrections, VA there are many great places to work.
    Your instructors , many have “never” been in private practice and do not share with recent students , the unpleasant employment experiences facing a naive, young dentist–who is there to warn you? ME !!

  • As a 1970 Dental School graduate, I was fortunate to have a varied career in the military, the Veterans Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and a brief stint in in private practice and a part-time faculty position. I would strongly encourage graduates to consider a career with the government (Military, VA, PHS, etc.). I found my nearly 40 years with the federal services to professionally and personally rewarding. The compensation is modest by private practice standards however I had the opportunity to work with competent and skilled professionals in a collegial environment where the focus was on patient care, education, and research.

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