What Did We Learn?

Steve Neidlinger, CAE

During a PAGD Membership Committee web meeting in 2021, the committee was discussing the value of achieving Fellowship and Mastership in the AGD. While the group appreciated the education and investment in self necessary to achieve these designations, the question was asked if we had empirical evidence that Fellowship or Mastership makes the recipient healthier, wealthier, or wiser. No, we did not. And after some searching, no one else seemed to have that either.

While I would love to spearhead this project to determine the advantages of Fellowship or Mastership, if they do exist, qualitative and quantitative analysis just ain’t my bag. Enter the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. The team at F&M worked with PAGD to develop a survey that measured the earning potential and career satisfaction of respondents, both designated and not, both AGD members and nonmembers. The team was keen on spotting bias in the questions, rooting out the chaff from the wheat, and determining what independent variables would affect the response. Here’s what they found:

“The regression model presented shows that there is no independent effect on career satisfaction for dentists who have the FAGD or MAGD designation. The only significant predictor of career satisfaction is the years in practice with satisfaction increasing the longer the respondent has been in practice.”

So does Fellowship or Mastership make you happy in dentistry? No. According to F&M’s study results, the only factor that makes you happy in your career is your age. The findings demonstrate that older dentists report a higher level of career satisfaction than younger dentists. Could this mean that because older dentists work in much more predominantly Fee for Service environments, removing the burden of practicing with PPOs is the reason for the smiles on their faces? Also, no. It turns out that an older dentist who participates in several PPOs is just as happy and healthy as a dentist that participates in zero. So, if you want to be a happier dentist, all you need to do is age. Which is great news, because you’re doing that right now.

“There is no independent effect on yearly income for dentists who have the FAGD designation.”

Fellows in the AGD, while we love ya, you don’t get paid that much more than those without their Fellowship. The regression coefficient is minimal to the point that it is statistically insignificant. But dry your tears, Fellows, because there’s good news on the horizon…

“The regression model presented shows that having the MAGD designation increases yearly income significantly, all else
being equal.”

While Fellowship has a small regression coefficient on yearly income, Mastership’s is very significant by comparison. How significant, you may ask? There are too many factors to pinpoint an exact income increase, such as number of hours worked, the location of the practice, etc. But for the average Masters-level practitioner working the average number or hours in the average practice, you will likely be earning $30,000 more per year than a similarly situated colleague that does not yet have their Masters.

Those who would like to see the report findings in print, please contact me and I will get you a copy. After reviewing it, consider the path you need to achieve your Mastership in the AGD. Presenting at PAGD’s PEAK Mastertrack courses demonstrates your learning and gives you the hands-on time needed to achieve it. The numbers show that it may not make you a happier dentist, but it could make you a wealthier one.