In the past week you’ve probably had a friend share with you that our profession has come in at #1 on the US News and World Report “Best Jobs List.” Actually, we’ve topped that list a few times in recent years. Do we agree?
The reasoning that US News uses is faulty. If you read their page concerning their selection criteria, they start with stats on jobs that will have the greatest number of openings through the year 2022. This is a terrible idea. It completely ignores the basic economic principle of supply and demand. From the article: “The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of nearly 16 percent between 2012 and 2022, with more than 23,000 new openings.” Just because there are going to be a lot of us doesn’t mean we’re all having a great time. If there was an increasing utilization of dental services to match the growth of dentists, then that would be great! But unfortunately we know that adult dental visits have been declining for over a decade. So what is causing the increase in supply of dentists? Because more dental schools have opened and more are on the way. There’s an increase in the number of people who want to be a dentist. Unfortunately US News wrongly attributes the increase in supply of dentists to an increasing demand for our services: “And because more people want cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening to attain pearly whites, the demand for dentists is growing.”
You know why there’s an increase in the number of people who want to be a dentist? Because poorly-researched reports like this one from US News keep telling the public that it’s the best job in America.
I’m not saying that being a dentist isn’t awesome; I love our profession. But US News has done everyone a disservice by not putting a more accurate report together. Where is student indebtedness in their statistics? Where is the rise of large group practice and its potential effects on practice models? Where is the decrease in utilization of services by adults?
I think being a dentist is one of the best jobs in the world. But I think it’s wrong to draw up a list that compares our profession to being a software developer (ranked #3). These are apples and oranges. Right now dentistry is suffering from an increasing supply of dentists and a decreasing demand for our services. Reports like this miss that point and, if anything, contribute to the problem.