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Returning to residency (dentist)

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  • Returning to residency (dentist)

    Hi all, looking forward to participating in this forum and learnig from everyone

    I have been practicing since graduating from dental school in 2014. I currently make about $210k/year and our combined household income is about $350K/year (wife is not in healthcare). We both have 401K and investment accounts totalling about $300K. I have been aggressive in paying off my school loans and expect to be student debt free in 4 months. We have a $370K mortgage on our condo and we own the house my in-laws live in which is worth $200K. We also have a 1-year old son.

    I was recently accepted to a 3 year specialty residency program. Unlike most post-graduate dental programs that charge a hefty tuition, I was fortunate enough to get into one that actually pays a resident stipend (~$50k/year). The program is in a nearby HCOL city and we will have to move there in order for me to attend the program. It may be possible for my wife to keep her current job. From a financial and opportunity cost perspective it probably doesn't make a lot of sense for me to return to residency, but I believe that it will pay off in the long run as I plan to own my own practice shortly after completing the program.

    My questions are: is there anything we can do to prepare for a significantly decreased household income in the new few years? What can I do with my retirement and investment accounts? Should we sell or rent out our condo considering that the property hasn't really appreciated in value since we bought it.

    Any thoughts would be so appreciated!

  • #2
    - have sufficient cash
    - Roth convert if sig lower tax brackets. otherwise nothing.
    - depends if you want to landlord or are coming back.

    what is your specialty in? i couldnt imagine going back to more training after almost 6 years out....


    • #3
      Originally posted by Peds View Post
      - i couldnt imagine going back to more training after almost 6 years out....
      Agreed! You did not mention what is motivating you to do this. Dislike general dentistry or what. If it's for increased salary you would need to do some calculating to make sure it is worth it.


      • #4
        Are you going back for prosthodontics? If so, is there a market for that? In 9 years of practice I have referred to a prosthodontist twice, both times were 100% patient related, not treatment plan complexity. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems like a really tough specialty to be successful in.


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies/questions so far. Like I said, I realize that this is a risk and a financial setback. I am pursuing it because prosthodontics is a specialty I've always been interested in ("passion" if you will). General dentistry is fine but I want the challenge and confidence treating difficult prosthetic cases. Of course, I can invest in CE but I don't think they compare to a full-time residency. Plus, I also want to have the option to do academics, CE and industry-related work in the future, all of which are more accessible to specialists.

          As far as whether a market exists for prostho, it really depends on the area. It's true that it's the least referred-to specialty from general dentists and I don't expect to count on GP referrals at least in the beginning. I will likely continue to do some general dentistry and slowly increasing the amount of higher-end prostho work as I chug along. Unfortunately the data on prostho income is sparse and likely skewed by the many practitioners in academia.


          • #6
            So tell us more about economics of prosthodontics vs general dentistry. 3 years is a lot of time.


            • #7
              Originally posted by childay View Post
              So tell us more about economics of prosthodontics vs general dentistry. 3 years is a lot of time.
              Data is limited but some sources suggest $30-50k more on average. But I find any data on dentist income to be unreliable since there is such a large range between owners and associates/academics. My goal is to be a practice owner soon after finishing and if I thought I would only increase my income by $30-50k I would obviously not choose to pursue further education. I also couldn’t see myself just doing general dentistry or the other specialties like endodontics or orthodontics since I’ve no interest in them. I’ve accepted that it’s a financial setback, and the question was if there is anything we can do to prepare for this.


              • #8
                I mean you are still going to be high income at $190k... unless you are sure you want to live in the condo again I’d plan on selling. I’d keep saving 15% to retirement and rent for 3 years hopefully cheaply. This doesn’t sound like a money making endeavor but you shouldn’t need to make too many changes unless you are fanatic spenders.


                • #9
                  Are you just burnt out?