Dental education still valuable despite upfront costs

November 4th, 2013

Dental academic software is more closely related to current issues facing higher education in the U.S. than many people think. The cost of attending both public and private universities has skyrocketed in recent years, leaving many graduates with massive amounts of debt.

According to a report from the American Dental Education Association, these trends may have resonating effects on the quality of dental care in the U.S. For example, recent graduates who start their own practices may be less willing to see low-income patients if they are paying off their student loans for years after completing their programs. People who visit the dentist while enrolled in Medicaid insurance programs pay a lower reimbursement rate than those on private plans, which would ultimately make these patients less attractive to struggling health care providers. However, that's not the only issue facing the overall oral care industry.

"A second concern is that the rising costs of education and of student indebtedness may make a dental career appear so unaffordable for future dental school and allied dental program applicants – especially those who are economically disadvantaged – that the entire profession becomes unattractive," the report stated.

Academic institutions can do very little on their own to manage the costs of education. However, administrators can take full advantage of factors they can control to ensure today's students are able to make the most of their educational experience. Programs that provide students with the tools necessary to tackle the unique challenges facing the oral care industry will ensure future graduates are not only interested in further developing their long-term careers, but that patients receive the best quality dental care possible.

Integrating technology into the classroom environment
Many institutions already use some form of software to perform basic student management processes such as grading and curriculum tracking. However, faculty and staff can use dental academic software to enhance the classroom experience as well. For example, advancements in technology have made it possible for educators to collaborate with outside institutions to easily share research and analyze data related to the most recent developments in the dental field. With the right software program, faculty can quickly integrate these new findings into existing curricula. As a result, students are able to gain access to more relevant information they will most likely use later on in the professional workforce.

Experience with industry trends
Advanced dental software programs are already integrated with electronic health record technology that has quickly become a mainstay in the overall health care industry. Students who are required to gain hands-on experience providing oral care throughout their academic programs can gain a significant competitive edge over other recent graduates by entering the workforce already familiar with using EHR systems.

The cost of pursuing a proper dental education has increased. However, recent research from Cornell University suggested medical careers continue to provide long-term payoffs that are worth the initial cost. To further ensure the value of education, academic institutions must invest in advanced technology to familiarize students with the tools necessary for success down the road.

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