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ADEA Survey of Graduating Dental School Seniors Identifies Commitment to Serving Others, Autonomy as Key Factors When Choosing a Career in the Profession
[August 29, 2014]

ADEA Survey of Graduating Dental School Seniors Identifies Commitment to Serving Others, Autonomy as Key Factors When Choosing a Career in the Profession

WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--

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 their patients."

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 after graduation.

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 To learn more about ADEA's Journal of Dental Education, visit

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

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