The Survival Podcast Forum

Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Emergency Preparations => Topic started by: Amerigo on December 20, 2010, 02:06:34 PM

Title: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: Amerigo on December 20, 2010, 02:06:34 PM
I need some help deciding on whether or not to specialize in dentistry.  I'm only one semester into school (out of 4 years), but everyone has told me the sooner you know if you're going to specialize the better, because you can start honing your resume towards that field.  One of the major reasons I'm doing dentistry is because I feel it will be a good career to help me achieve self-sufficiency, and it will be a good skill post-SHTF.  One of my biggest deciding factors on whether to specialize or not will be whether it helps me or hurts me in the self-sufficiency/preparedness field.

Of course I need to enjoy what I do, and Periodontics seems to be the specialty that interests me most.  I would primarily be doing bone grafts, gum surgeries, and implants for people who have serious problems with their teeth.  I also think I would be perfectly happy doing general dentistry.

Some career-related things to consider:
1) I will graduate in 2014 for general dentistry.  If I did Perio, I would finish in 2017 (3 extra years). 
2) In the state I plan to live, the median general dentist makes around $150k a year, Periodontists in my state make around $200k a year.
3) A few Perio programs actually pay you a stipend and don't charge tuition.  Some programs do charge tuition and don't give a stipend.  The extra 3 years may add anywhere from $0 to $90,000 onto my total student loans.
4) I estimate that my total student loans for general dentistry will be $220,000.  With Perio added, anywhere from $220k-310k.
5) Some may think $150k a year sounds like a lot, but after student loan payments, paying for private health insurance, no company benefits, paying for my own retirement, etc, it's not quite as much.

Some SHTF things to consider:
1) If SHTF soon, specializing would be a poor choice (debt might not be paid off yet).
2) If the schumer doesn't hit the fan soon, the extra income from Perio would allow me far greater preps (think Patriots style).
3) Post-SHTF, general dentistry would be in more demand than specialized Perio work.  With Perio, I wouldn't do "regular" things like cavities and fillings, but post-SHTF I could probably "relearn" those more basic things I learned in school.

Any advice is appreciated.



Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: joeinwv on December 20, 2010, 02:44:18 PM
Do what you enjoy and are interested in. That will be far better prep than doing something you like less based on an uncertain future contingency.

Perio / Ortho work would not be real relevant in SHTF, but you will still have plenty of basic dentistry knowledge.

I think in a real SHTF situation, you aren't going to have a lot of tools / medicine to work with anyway and your practice will likely be in the extraction / repair business.
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: Chief_919 on December 21, 2010, 05:41:48 PM
Here is something you may have not considered- be a dentist in the Army Reserve or National Guard in addition to your regular practice, or even go active duty.

You can qualify for student loan repayment- that will be a huge relief from debt. You will gain experience. You will get training that will be relevant for other prepping stuff.

You can do a stint active, then go into private practice debt free and with some experience. Or you can go USAR and right into private practice. Last I checked a dentist going into the Army Reserve gets $50,000 in student loan repayment plus $75,000 in incentive bonus pay- put all that toward your student loan debt and the Army just eliminated half of it just for being a reservist!

You mentioned health care costs- as a reservist you can buy into Tricare (the military health plan) for $56 a month for yourself, or $197 a month for your family.

Something to think about...
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: sdcharger on December 22, 2010, 03:40:35 PM
Either plan works.  Decide how much school you can stand after you've been there a while.  You may decide you are not willing to stay in school longer.
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: soupbone on December 22, 2010, 06:58:02 PM
Chief has a very good point. MD's start out O-2, O-3 pay grade and go up from there. If the Army lifestyle doesn't meet your needs, try the Air National Guard, Reserves and/or Active Duty. Completely different environment.

You'll get a lot of experience, do a lot of good, and you may get them to pay for or provide your specialty training in some place like Brooks Medical Center, San Antonio TX. All of the other stuff - loan repayment, etc., goes for the AF/Air Guard also.

Merry Christmas,

soup
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: Ken325 on December 22, 2010, 08:43:13 PM
So what is your bachelor’s degree?  It sounds like your just starting dentistry school.  Congratulations on getting in.  I have a Biology degree and I wanted to go to medical school at one time, but I didn't. 

Personally I am very pessimistic about the economy.  Watch the crash course http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse (ftp://http://www.chrismartenson.com/crashcourse) if you want to know why.  It is 3 hours long but it will really change how you see things.  I think that we are about to go into a deep prolonged depression.  Who knows what it will look like when we come out of it.  Based on the history of what happens when a society goes into a major economic collapse; I am predicting the following.

 I think that we will see a dramatic decrease in specialization.  We simply will not be able to afford brain surgeons who specialize in infant neurological diseases.  We will have doctors who are asked to treat everything, so I would not specialize.   I would also keep things general so that you can work anywhere you want.  If you specialize, then you may have to work in a big city to get enough business, and that may not be a good idea.

We will have to ration health care.  It will be very unpopular, but we will not have the money to treat everyone for everything.  The elderly, people with chronic illness, and people with self inflicted illnesses will not get treated.  We will not do expensive treatments like transplants.  We have had dramatic inflation in the medical field for a while.  This is because the government and insurance has paid for whatever is needed and the consumer didn’t care about cost.  This will change dramatically in the future.  You might see the consumer having to pay the majority of healthcare payments, and this will mean that people ration their own healthcare.  This will drive prices down.  The result is it may be difficult to pay your loans.  You also have to consider that you will be in a high tax bracket and you may have to pay a lot to set up your practice.  Things like insurance, office space, and buying equipment.

The reason I ask about your bachelors is I would strongly consider not going to dentist school.  The military option is a good idea but going massively into debt right now is just scary.   You have to follow your passion, and if that is what you want to do then you should do it.  But watch the crash course first so that you will understand that the future will not look like the past. 
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: hd45hunt on December 22, 2010, 08:57:51 PM
I think that you are doing the smart thing by asking these questions now, while you are just getting started.  I don't have much to add about your actual decision, just reading through and thought Chief 919 and Ken 325 brought up some points that you most definitely need to ponder awhile.  My only question is can you find middle ground, where maybe you lean towards Perio, but yet it doesn't rule out the General so if you change your mind, you bases are still covered?  One never knows what tomorrow may bring.  Good luck with whatever you decide.  ;)
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: boboroshi on December 23, 2010, 11:44:49 AM
Chief and soup both make great points with looking at the Medical Corps. In some cases, they will even pay for advanced medical degrees. A guy who was a Scout mentor and an like an uncle to me growing up was a USAF Reserve Periodontist. You can get serious dents made in your loans and also have some extra income (or guaranteed income if the market is doing poorly in your AO). And Tricare has come a long way from the days of CHAMPUS.

In the mean time you might also consider going to be an EMT. You'll get a great base medical knowledge that is quite applicable for SHTF scenarios and many localities will pay for the training. There are lots of volunteer rescue squads that need help. That also helps integrate you better in your community.

In either case, I would start building your personal medical stash as well as look at herbal remedies (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acmella_oleracea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acmella_oleracea) ) and set yourself up for success regardless of whether or not the flag is flying upside down.
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: Dainty on December 23, 2010, 12:15:42 PM
One aspect of dentistry to consider is that the best general community dentists should work themselves out of a job.

What I mean by that is there are studies that show tooth decay can be both reversed and prevented through diet. Here's one link (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/12/dr-mellanbys-tooth-decay-reversal-diet.html) on the subject. Weston A. Price was a dentist who traveled the globe looking at people's teeth and at what they ate, comparing aboriginal diets to westernized diets and drawing conclusions from his findings. I believe you would be very interested to read about it. I was personally fascinated by how varied the native diets were around the world, and yet despite their significant differences all had good dental health and straight teeth unless or until they switched to westernized food. Price pinpointed what he thought the difference was and did experiments to that effect with very positive results.

I began going to a "holistic dentist" who is indeed an "actual" dentist, and when I mentioned cavities healing with nutrition his response was a nonchalant, "oh yeah, of course." Though I'm more of a "seeing is believing" type of person, so we'll see if I can get those X-rays of mine to change without dental intervention.

But my point is, if it is true that cavities can be both completely prevented and the smaller ones sealed up and the decay healed through nutrition, then the best dentist would educate the community on this matter and would soon find himself (or herself) virtually out of a job. According to Price, proper nutrition of the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding and proper nutrition of the child in early years should result in wide arches and straight teeth. Anecdotal evidence by those who have followed the advice appears to back it up, but I doubt there have been any proper studies done. My point is, again, in a long-term situation of a small community, if these things are true and if you, as a dentist, educate and encourage your patients in this regard, you should soon find yourself lacking people to work on, even for general dentistry.

Then again, nutritional advice has always found a cavalier audience with a percentage of the people, and I don't expect that would completely change no matter how dire the survival situation.
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: soupbone on December 23, 2010, 05:33:29 PM
Something I shoudda thought about before: IF you can take a break in your studies, and IF you are sure you want to go into dentistry, consider joining the AF Reserve / Air National Guard now. Get a dental tech slot (of course) - you may have to go across or out of the state to do it - and the AF will send you through tech school and give you practical experience. The Guard or Reserve will also give you a great part time job while you finish your tech school. When it comes to covering your specialty training, well, we look after our own before we look after outsiders.

AFR / ANG tech schools are the same ones the Active Duty folks attend, and they provide excellent training. College credit is given: if your school accepts them, it could save you some time and $$. Its also a great resume builder and may assist you into getting into the school of your choise.

some thoughts from a "Gray Eagle"

soup
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: ChEng on December 27, 2010, 06:58:16 PM
I need some help deciding on whether or not to specialize in dentistry.  I'm only one semester into school (out of 4 years), but everyone has told me the sooner you know if you're going to specialize the better, because you can start honing your resume towards that field.  One of the major reasons I'm doing dentistry is because I feel it will be a good career to help me achieve self-sufficiency, and it will be a good skill post-SHTF.  One of my biggest deciding factors on whether to specialize or not will be whether it helps me or hurts me in the self-sufficiency/preparedness field.
...

Amerigo,
As an old "flyboy" myself, I have to chime in with those who are encouraging the Air Force - of course, as the dad of a few soldiers, I can recommend the Army too  ;D

You mention your post-SHTF skills, that is a good concern, but you want to consider how much of that skill will be usable to you.  In a bad situation, you may not have access to your chair, drills, vacuum, or other tools.  You could spend some effort and money to collect tools that can be used in those types of situations, but make sure that you consider the additional efforts.

Hesperian has a book that they offer, called "Where There Is No Dentist".  This is mainly for missionary types and to help small, third-world communities be better off without a dentist available, but you may find some thought-provoking stuff in it (I have not read it, just glanced through it.)  You can download the entire book, as a PDF, or just the individual chapters, at http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download_dentist.php. (http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download_dentist.php.)  You can also purchase a hard copy, if you like, at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Where-There-Dentist-Murray-Dickson/dp/0942364058. (http://www.amazon.com/Where-There-Dentist-Murray-Dickson/dp/0942364058.) It's running $8.55 at this time (new is cheaper than used - go figure.)

boboroshi has an idea worth considering.  I've taken the EMT course, and our dental training was just the "stick it in milk and get them to a dentist" type stuff.  There is not a lot of dental first aid.  Your dental training (if you decide to complete it) could make you a more useful medico, than just either one.  Just make sure that you can operate in an emergency situation (tools, power, etc.)

Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: Amerigo on December 28, 2010, 05:27:13 PM
Hey everyone,

Thanks for the thoughtful replies.  I'll respond to some of these:

First, I actually did consider for a long time whether or not going the military route would be a good option for me.  (I actually posted that question here quite a while ago and everyone's responses gave me a lot to think about).  I spoke with a recruiter a few times about it as well.  While I absolutely respect, admire, and appreciate the armed forces, I realized that it wouldn't be a good option for me, no matter which branch I joined. 

My bachelors degree is in Exercise and Sports Science.  It's a great pre-med, pre-dental degree, but without going on to more schooling, my opportunities are weak.  Right before graduation the career counselor told us that the average income for our degree was something like $36,000 a year.  I never planned on being done with my bachelors degree, so I didn't care.  Even though it will require a lot of up-front debt, I think I'm going to love my career.

As far as diet and dental care... those are some interesting points.  Next semester I have a class called "Nutrition and Oral Health", so it will be interesting to see what they teach in regards to diet.

I do own a copy of "Where There Is No Dentist".  Being a prepper, I will hopefully amass a good supply of "archaic" equipment that would allow me to continue practicing dentistry post-SHTF.  It's possible that if I owned some non-modern equipment I could be one of the only dentists in a large area that would be able to do more than just pull a tooth. 

The more I think about it, the more I think general dentistry would be the best option.  The smaller the town, the less demand for a periodontist.  I haven't decided for sure if I would be happy living in a small town or not, but as a specialist that door may be closed to me.   
Title: Re: Help me with a preparedness-related career choice...
Post by: Heavy G on December 28, 2010, 08:22:49 PM
Can you get hooked up with mentor dentists in various fields and have them tell you what it's really like to do what they do?  Maybe even open the phone book in your area and call them.

One thing that people in the middle to senior stages of their career like to do is to guide younger people.  I bet they'd love to help you.