The Philadelphia County Dental Society is a professional association of dentists dedicated to upholding ethical principles in the field of dentistry.
The members of the Philadelphia County Dental Society are committed to serving the oral health care needs of the people in the Greater Philadelphia Region. Through education, information and camaraderie, the Society empowers its members to achieve the ideals of professionalism and to improve the dental health of the public through the art and science of dentistry.
On March 29, 2014, twenty-nine dental students and new dentists (classified by the ADA as those who have completed their formal dental education within the last ten years) gathered in Philadelphia to hear information about strategies for dental school debt management and personal financial planning. The four-hour session with lunch, initiated by the Philadelphia County Dental Society, was not a sales pitch, but a frank discussion of the difficulties many new dentists face in paying off huge educational debts, opening practices, buying homes and starting families.
The New Dentists Workshop featured presentations by Dr. Judith A. McFadden, secretary of the Philadelphia County Dental Society, and Mr. Lewis C. Frost, portfolio executive and vice president of Adviser Investments of Newton, MA. Sponsorship a grant from the American Dental Association.
The genesis for the Workshop began when Dr. Kevin J. Klatte, president of the Philadelphia County Dental Society, spoke to the Board of Governors about conversations he had with upper class dental students and new dentists. He said, "They told me they felt stressed out and overmatched about their debt and financial futures and that no courses at their dental schools adequately prepared them. I decided that our Society should try to provide helpful information and strategies to our young colleagues."
Noting that the average debt among graduating dental students in 2012 was between $221,000 and $263,000, Dr. McFadden offered practical approaches to budgeting, tracking expenses and saving aimed at helping new dentists manage the debt. She noted that the goal of the program was "to shed some light on the special monetary circumstances of new dentists and dental students. By giving some financial and budget tools to use now and long term, we hope to help them put things into perspective, regardless of the size of their debt, so that they can use money wisely, and by making good decisions, the emotional and worrisome concerns about money will not take over their lives."
Mr. Frost offered practical ideas for debt management as well as methods and ideas for planning for a stable financial future.
Total educational debt for those who attended ranged from $60,000 to than $400,000, with monthly pay-back rates ranging from $600 to $4,000. Attendees overwhelmingly responded that the session provided very or extremely helpful information to them. More than 50% said they would be likely to change their approach to debt management because of what they learned at the program. Nearly 75% responded that they thought it would be worthwhile to attend a student debt consolidation/restructuring/management course that featured a professional student debt specialist. Ninety-five percent said they would recommend the program to dental school classates and/or colleagues.
Attendees remained for lunch after the session and were able to speak informally with President Klatte and Mr. Frost.
The Philadelphia County Dental Society sponsored a similar program in September of 2013 which drew thirty-seven attendees.