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Feature Alert: A Warning About VitalSource Electronic Textbooks

Many dental schools across the country now offer VitalSource Technologies' Electronic Textbooks or Virtual Textbooks to dental students across the United States. We're here to tell you what they are all about, and why you should not buy into their e-textbook option. Some dental schools force all of their students to purchase virtual textbooks. Other schools offer an option. If you have an option, Top Ten Nation recommends that dental students stick to purchasing regular old-fashioned paper textbooks.

Top Ten Nation Feature Editorial: Consumer Alert: The Trickery Behind VitalSource's Sales Pitch And Why You Should Stay Away From Their E-Textbooks

Many of our member insiders are complaining that VitalSource was not upfront and clear about their contract with dental students from day one. VitalSource representatives regularly visit dental schools and market their digital textbook product without fully disclosing the contract. VitalSource states that every student has the option to purchase the e-textbooks, but what they don't tell students is that they are required to purchase the e-textbooks every year at dental school for all four years once they have purchased this option. If you ever choose to stop paying VitalSource and switch back to paper textbooks, or if you choose to stop buying textbooks altogether since you may feel that you can get through the rest of dental school without them, ALL VITALSOURCE E-TEXTBOOKS ARE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU, WITHOUT A REFUND OF ANY SORT. This is accomplished by forcing you to update your software license. If you choose not to update your license, they bill you again for the next installment regardless of your choice to not purchase more e-textbooks. The billing occurs through your dental school, so unless you pay up, your dental education is on the line. This amounts to a total rip-off because first off, they don't explain this in their marketing pitch at all. Secondly, if you had spent thousands of dollars in your first few years in dental school purchasing e-textbooks, and you decide not to go back to the e-textbook option later on, you are left with NO e-textbooks whatsoever. All of the money you spent is lost with nothing to show for it. All of your money is gone into the hands of VitalSource, and you - the poor dental student - is left with absolutely nothing. How can this be?! As the editor of Top Ten Nation, I am absolutely shocked by this.

With paper textbooks, no one can take them away from you if you decide not to purchase additional textbooks in the future. On top of that, once you are done with paper textbooks, you can re-sell them to other students who may be looking for them via, Craigslist, eBay, etc. This is clearly the superior option. Especially when it comes to being frugal and saving money which incidentally is important for high-tuition paying dental students.

When it comes to VitalSource, I feel it is essential to warn our readers about what our current member dental students are experiencing, and what they are frustrated about. Dental school is already expensive, and it is completely outrageous for a company such as VitalSource to come in and further stress out already worn-out, and financially drained dental students. This company should not be allowed to do this, and it makes me wonder why dental schools even allow these people to have the option of presenting their products to their students. Kick-backs maybe?! It's about time these people learned that money doesn't grow on trees.

We hope this helps to clarify our position on VitalSource's money-grabbing, insulting, and tricky policies. For further information regarding our stance on this bewildering company and what it is doing to dental students, leave a comment or contact us.

Top 10: Career Choices For New Dentists

New dental school graduates have a milieu of options when it comes to their next step in their careers. We'd like to bring a little bit of introductory clarity to many of the choices that new dentists can face. Many dental students who are in their 3rd year or junior year are also having to face a deadline to decide whether or not to pursue further education. Most graduates choose to enter private practice. We hope this post helps. All salary figures, and statistics are referenced from the American Dental Association.

Top 10 Paths That A Dental School Graduate Can Take And Should Consider

1. Postdoctoral Training
There are nine specialties and numerous other postgraduate educational opportunities available. The specialties (Endodontics, Pathology, Radiology, Oral Surgery, Orthodontics, Pediatrics, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, and Public Health) generally involve 2-3 year programs, with the notable exception of Oral Surgery which generally is 4-6 years in length. Specialties can require competitive board scores (which may change to GRE scores in the near future) as well as competitive class ranks, and other indicators. There are numerous non-specialty programs out there as well that include GPR's, AEGD's, Implantology, Dental Anasthesiology, Forensics, Preventative Dentistry, and Oral Biology. I tend to advise those graduates that decide to pursue general practice to consider a GPR or AEGD since basic cost-benefit analyses demonstrate that you learn more, and save more time and money in the long run in such programs over your practice lifetime, then you would by taking CE. Essentially, taking CE for what you would have learned in a GPR or AEGD is more costly and more time consuming.

2. Solo Private Practice
75.3% of dentists in the US and Canada are in solo practice, but the trend shows that the large majority of them are older dentists, and not new graduates. Of the 75.3%, only 12.7% are new graduates within the last 10 years. The reason new graduates are shying away from solo practice is because of the financial risk associated with start-up. Buying out an existing practice tends to be the more favored choice for those who choose this path. It is worthwhile noting that in general, incorporated sole proprietors earn more on average ($186,610) than unincorporated sole proprietors in general practice ($167,800).

3. Associateship
New dental graduates are more inclined today to become associates then ever before. Established dental practices bring new associates in as salaried employees, without having to have any financial burden. It allows a new graduate to gain skill and confidence, earn and pay off loans, and to begin to establish their own practice. On average, most associates stay with a practice for 2 years, at which point they leave to start off on their own, or come aboard as a partner. For those that decide to leave, a restrictive covanent is generally signed restricting the associate from practicing within a certain distance. Other paths include also buying out a practice at the end of an agreed associateship period. Associates earn on average $131,350 per annum.

4. Solo Group Practice
These practices are essentially a group of solo practitioners working out of the same office space. This arrangement allows a new graduate to start off without a huge committment, and to slowly work their way up. In these types of practices, a new dentist can rent out an operatory or two, and maintain ownership over their own patients, hours of operation, and fee collection. Generally, these practices end up sharing front end and assistant employees, instruments, and office supplies.

5. Partnership
This is generally easy for a new graduate only if they are setting up with other new graduates. An established practice would only bring in an experienced partner or someone who offers a new service to their patients, which is an example of why post-graduate training can be valuable. It is important to have the legal framework and contractual boundaries of a partnership set up appropriately. Good contracts that cover all the possibilities are important to maintain a good relationship. Partners on average earn $192,870 unincorporated, while incorporated partners earn more on average ($215,670).

6. Contractor
A contractor position is similar to being an associate, but without being an actual employee of the practice. You remain self-employed, and set your own hours, and decide what kind of procedures you perform. This type of a position is helpful if your lifestyle demands flexibility and you have a solid base of practices that offer you the type of work that you are looking for. On the downside, you don't receive employee benefits, and you are responsible for your own insurance. You also are not guaranteed a salary of any sort. Contractors earn on average $101,710.

7. Federal Dental Employers
These positions are generally those that require a committment, but provide sign-on bonuses and loan assistance. Positions include openings with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the U.S. Public Health Service. In such positions you may be relocated somewhere in the United States or overseas. Benefits include not having to worry about a start-up cost or a patient base, and the oppurtunity to gain more experience or to attend postgraduate training.

8. Academics
Since the likely reader of this post is already in dental school or has graduated, you're likely aware of the positions available at dental schools. Most dental schools, if not all, are looking for faculty, either clinical or didactic at any given time. There is a shortage of dental school faculty throughout the nation. At the current time, the U.S. has 56 dental schools. Note that faculty pursuing tenure usually require additonal postgraduate training in a specific discipline. The downside is that for faculty just beginning their careers, the salary tends to be on the 'low' end.

9. Hospital Dentistry
Dentists hired for these positions generally require some postgraduate training to receive hospital credentials. The position entails treating medically compromised patients who otherwise would have difficulty being seen by private practice dentists. Not all hospitals have dental wards, so be sure to check out which hospitals in your area would be interested in bringing aboard a dentist.

10. The Other Options
Many other private industries hire dentists for clinical, administrative, research, and other reasons. DMHO's hire dentists to provide treatment to their clients, insurance companies hire dentists to verify claims, and associations hire dentists for administrative purposes. Private industries hire dentists for research purposes as well. There is also a dentist that has been hired by Google to provide dental treatment to Google employees. Although demand in this 'other' sector is low, it is certainly an area that should not be overlooked for a new graduate seeking a non-traditional dental career.

Good luck to all you new graduates out there! Although you shouldn't need it. I just had a lecture at school about how the demand for dentists is significantly increasing, whereas the supply of new graduates is beginning to dwindle.

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