This is important, many GPR programs will require that you live within 20 to 60 minutes from the facility.
How do patients pay for their treatment? Are payment plans offered?
Payment will dictate the treatment you can provide. Over are the days where a resident can expect to deliver 50 to 100 units of fixed in a twelve month program. Insurance covers the basics – fillings, extractions, and non-surgical periodontal therapy (and private insurance usually has a $1,500 cap).
Is there a stipend?
If you used student loans to pay for your dental education, it’s unlikely that you will be able to pay your monthly loan payment while a resident. Typically residents make between 41k and 55k depending on the program. After you pay taxes and rent, you’ll have to enter IBR or PAYE to avoid defaulting.
What is the on call commitment?
Some programs require that a resident be on call, some do not.
Are there any offsite clinics?
If there are, how far away are they? How much time will you spend there? What type of procedures are being performed at the clinic? Is comprehensive care offered or is this an emergency clinic?
Where can residents park? What are the fees?
If your residency is in an urban environment, make sure parking is included because an extra $50 a month to park your car nearby will add up over the course of a year.
Who is responsible for hygiene and maintenance? Are residents responsible for scaling and root planing (non-surgical initial therapy)?
How much of your time do you want to spend doing recalls or scaling/root planing? My guess is that you should be more than qualified to provide these services in a private practice setting as a senior dental student, so if 30% of your time is dedicated to maintaining patients as a resident, are you getting enough value with the other 70% of your time to justify your investment in the program?
What does a typical day look like? Are residents on a block schedule (3 weeks of fixed/endo/perio)?
To think that a resident can provide comprehensive care over a 12 month period may be far fetched.
How many patients can a resident expect to see in one day?
How many chairs does each resident have access to?
Setting up and breaking down takes time. Ideally, a resident will have access to at least two dental chairs (three would be better).
Are assistants always available?
As dental students, we are use to not having an assistant, but when are you going to learn to work with one? Are you tired of trying to suction, hold your mirror, retract the tongue and cheek all while using the high speed by yourself?
Are residents allowed to moonlight?
Residents are paid below market value. Are you allowed to work weekends at a private office to supplement your income? Some residencies do not allow their residents to work outside of the program (this will be outlined in your contract).
Are specialists available for consultation?
Having the resources available to take on challenging cases is a big reason to do a residency, if your program does not have an endodontist and prosthodontist you may not be able to learn more advanced techniques or tackle more challenging cases.
Are the patients at this location being used to feed another program? Who do we refer our cases to?
You probably don’t want to attend a program where a post graduate prosthodontic, endodontic, and periodontal program are able to take away your cases (aren’t you doing a residency to gain experience in these disciplines anyways?)
How much pedo can I expect to do?
If you want more experience with children, find out if your program sees kids at all.
How much endo can I expect to do?
Ask the residents, not the program directors. A program may say that you can perform any endodontic case you feel comfortable with, but if the patient population does not have insurance that covers root canal therapy, you may not be doing any endo.
How much perio surgery (GTR/crown lengthening/free gingival graft, subcutaneous connective tissue flaps, and what materials will I have access too).
From what I have heard, very few programs provider experiences in periodonal surgery.
How many units of fixed can I expect to do?
Of course you can plan a PFM, but will your patients be able to pay for it? Do you want to gain experience with CAD/CAM or deliver all ceramic crowns? You’ll need access to a patient population that can afford these services.
Will I earn any certifications?
Being certified to provide oral conscious sedation would be a big plus.
Are there courses? How much of my time is spent in class? Are there exams? What type of exams are given? Are the courses held on site?
The big question here is how much of your time will be spent in class vs clinic?
What are the requirements to complete the program?
Some programs have requirements (just like dental school). Do you really want to go through that again?
Chance Bodini is a general dentist practicing in San Diego, California. He is the founder of Embrasure Space (an online network for dentists) and Proximal Contact, LLC where he designs websites for dentists. OneLooseTooth.com is his blog.