Each year, the American
Dental Education Association (ADEA) conducts a survey of seniors
graduating from all U.S. dental schools to ask questions regarding their
decision to pursue a dental career, how they financed their education,
how much education-related debt they have assumed and their plans
following graduation. This month, a report appearing in the Journal
of Dental Education (JDE), ADEA's scholarly publication,
details the findings
of the 2013 survey.
ADEA distributed the email survey to the 65 U.S. dental schools for
completion by their 2013 graduating classes. More than 80% of seniors
responded to the survey revealing several commonalities among those
pursuing a career in the dental profession.
Two-fifths of the seniors said they decided to pursue a career in
dentistry before entering college. Among all respondents, the top three
reasons cited as "very important" to their decision to enter the field
were: having control over their work schedule, providing service to
others and the opportunity for self-employment. These findings are
consistent with those in pior years.
"Once again, the ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors shows that this
profession attracts students looking for a career that offers
independence and autonomy, but who also have a strong altruistic
streak," says Richard W. Valachovic, D.M.D., M.P.H., ADEA President and
CEO. "These findings confirm that the dental profession continues to
attract self-directed people who want to have a real impact on health of
The survey found that the average educational debt (college and dental
school combined) reported by the students surveyed totaled more than
$215,000-nearly 10% more than the class of 2012 reported. While seniors
who attended private or private state-related schools faced
smaller-than-average increases in debt in 2013, they graduated with more
than $249,000 in debt, on average, while those graduating from public
schools owed just over $189,000. Dental students are also entering
dental school with an average of $45,000 in college debt, a 21% increase
compared to 2012.
The vast majority of the seniors surveyed said they planned to pursue
careers in private practice or continue their training and education.
More than half said that their debt had "no" to "moderate" amount of
influence over their primary career choice upon graduation, and
one-third of the 2013 graduating seniors said that debt "very much" or
"completely" influenced their choice of primary professional activity
More than half of the graduating seniors who completed the survey
identified themselves as white, with Asians accounting for about 20% of
students and other racial and racial/ethnic minorities accounting for
about 12% of students. The seniors were almost evenly split between men
and women, and most came from well-educated families in which one or
both parents held a college or higher degree.
The report, "Annual ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors: 2013
Graduating Class," offers additional findings and more than 40 charts,
highlighting 2013 graduates' opinions about school curricula, extramural
rotations, public policy and more. The report is available on the Web at www.jdentaled.org.
To learn more about ADEA's Journal of Dental Education, visit www.adea.org/jde.
About the American Dental Education Association
The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is The Voice of Dental
Education. Its members include all U.S. and Canadian dental schools and
many allied and advanced dental education programs, corporations, deans,
program directors, administrators, faculty and students, residents and
fellows. The mission of ADEA is to lead individuals and institutions of
the dental education community to address contemporary issues
influencing education, research and the delivery of oral health care for
the health of the public. ADEA's activities encompass a wide range of
research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings and communications
like the esteemed Journal of Dental Education, as well as the
admissions services: ADEA AADSAS, ADEA PASS, ADEA DHCAS and ADEA CAAPID.
For more information, visit www.adea.org.
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