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The Value of ADA Membership for New Dentists

ADA New Dentist News sat down with the chair of the ADA New Dentist Committee to talk about the value of membership for new dentists — those ten years or fewer out of dental school

ADA New Dentist News

Let’s start with a simple question; why single out new dentists? Isn’t ADA membership valuable for every dentist?

Dr. Brian Schwab

Oh sure. And there are so many benefits, such as ADA Members Insurance Plans, that are valuable for dentists at every career stage. But I think it’s especially critica

l for new dentists to be members.

I was looking at some numbers…did you know the average dental student debt back in 1990 was about $55,000 (editor’s note: According to the Annual ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors, the class of 1990 had an average debt of $54,550)? Can you imagine? Even if you adjust that for inflation, you don’t reach six figures. So at that basic, pocketbook level, new dentists face different challenges from previous generations.

And the ADA understands that, which is why the Reduced Dues Program is so important. So, if you earned your D.D.S. or D.M.D. in 2013, then your first year is 2014 and you pay zero dues at the national level. Most state and local dental societies match the national rate. Then your second year out of school you pay 25% at the national level, the third year is 50%, and it keeps going until you are five years out and paying 100%. But you need to maintain continuous membership. And if you go into a specialty or residency program you can join as a graduate student member for $30 and that preserves your eligibility for reduced dues.


What makes ADA membership valuable for new dentists?

Dr. Brian Schwab

Here’s a real world example. Say you are considering signing a contract to become a provider for an insurance company. Do you fully understand this legal document, including all the potential benefits and pitfalls? The ADA offers a contract analysis service where you can submit an unsigned contract and get a plain-language analysis of the agreement. It’s not a substitute for legal advice, it’s a great tool for making yourself well-informed and it’s absolutely free to ADA members.

As new dentists some of us own practices and some of us work for a practice. I’ve been in both positions, and I can tell you that the ADA Center for Professional Success is a great asset when it comes to those nuts and bolts questions about business. Again, absolutely free but only to ADA members.


What about the clinical side of dentistry?

Dr. Brian Schwab

There’s JADA of course, with searchable archives online, and the Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry. I think these resources are especially helpful when discussing treatment planning with patients since the ADA name is so well-respected by the public. They see the green ADA sticker on the front door and it helps reassure them that they’ve chosen wisely when selecting a dentist.


We’ve talked about tools to help new dentists succeed, and ways that ADA can help members be better dentists. Anything else?

Dr. Brian Schwab

As dentists we have to stand up for ourselves, and that means standing together. My practice is in Pennsylvania and every year I participate in our lobby day where hundreds of dentists and dental students come to Harrisburg, the state capital, to show our strength. There really is strength in numbers, and the ADA represents over 158,000 of us. That is huge! There aren’t a lot of professions with those numbers. But the flip side of that is that the numbers don’t just happen, our strength comes from our membership, which means individual dentists joining and renewing membership, one by one.

As a new dentist I want those numbers to be strong today, and I want them to be strong going forward because I’m planning on having a long career (laughs.) Protecting the future of my profession—that is probably the most valuable thing of all! 

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