The Best Jobs ranking from U.S. News and World Report is terrible

U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks dentistry in its top five careers. This leads Dr. Chris Salierno to shake his head.

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Every year, U.S. News and World Report releases its “Best Jobs” ranking, and every year I shake my head. Dentistry is consistently ranked in the top five overall jobs, even reaching the coveted number one spot a few times. For 2019 we fell to fourth overall and second in health-care jobs. But that’s not why I’m upset.

I’m annoyed because their ranking process makes little sense. They draw a lot of research from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), which is fine, but their conclusions seem to ignore a lot of critical information. For example, let’s look at orthodontists, who are ranked fifth in overall jobs and third in health-care jobs. U.S. News lists “10-year growth volume” as one of its top considerations for how great a job is. They state that “. . . the BLS projects the US will add 1,300 new orthodontist jobs between 2016 and 2026.”

Now, I’m no economist, but shouldn’t we be considering the demand for services, not just the supply of service providers? If you examine the rest of their criteria you will see such analysis lacking. As we know, more general dentists are providing orthodontic services, and we’ve even seen the rise of unsupervised, at-home aligner companies. Does this mean the end of orthodontics? Of course not. But the issue of how orthodontists (and the rest of the dental profession) are evaluated as a potential career against all other possible jobs deserves far more analysis than what is being offered here. Our colleague, Michael W. Davis, DDS, wrote an excellent summary of some of the important factors that are missing from U.S. News’ consideration, including debt-to-income ratio, average years of loan repayments remaining, and stress.

I think the biggest challenge facing our profession, the one that keeps me up at night, is that the supply of dentists is expected to increase through 2037 while spending on dental services for adults is relatively flat. Armchair analysis like the U.S. News and World Report perpetuate the myth that our profession is free of hardships and the future is bright. I believe this myth contributes to the increase in the supply of dentists, as young college students consider a career that is only viewed through rose-colored glasses.

The future of dentistry is bright. We have the resources, such as DE’s Principles of Practice Management Conference, to help our small businesses see their way through whatever difficult times may come. But the public, and our potential future colleagues, should be exposed to a more complete picture of our profession if we’re going to be ranked alongside software developers and physician assistants.

Cheers,

Chris

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