In most states, postdoctoral training programs are not a prerequisite for practicing general dentistry, but they are growing in popularity and demand. These programs come in two forms: the General Practice Residency (GPR) and the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program. They are designed to give dentists a greater depth of experience in general dentistry, and often give a competitive edge in the job market or when applying for a specialist residency.
What do the GPR and AEGD have in common?
- A length of one to two years
- A large, diverse pool of patients with a range of needs
- A high daily patient load
- GPRs and AEGDs both pay a stipend, although GPRs tend to pay more.
- Both programs expose residents to advanced techniques in general dentistry.
What is an AEGD?
Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) programs are clinic-based, and usually take place within a dental clinic on a dental school campus.
During an AEGD program, residents can expect to:
- Follow a sequential, planned curriculum like dental school, but with more patients and less supervision.
- Learn the practical applications of clinical dentistry and be introduced to a range of techniques and materials.
- Gain exposure to the different aspects of practice management.
What is a GPR?
A General Practice Residency is usually hospital-based, with residents practicing alongside other medical residents and doctors. It is the hospital environment which creates an experience dramatically different from an AEGD program.
During a GPR, residents can expect to:
- Deliver care to a wide range of ambulatory and hospitalized patients
- Work with medically compromised or developmentally disabled patients
- Go through several rotations, including orofacial pain, oral surgery, and even general medicine and anesthesiology.
- Spend most of their time delivering oral health care in an outpatient setting, with the remainder being spent in surgery, in the ER with trauma patients, or attending lectures.
- Be on call approximately one weekend per month.
- Practice with a focus on medical management rather than clinical dentistry.
The intensive nature and high patient load of both GPRs and AEGDs can give graduates the experiential equivalent of a few years in private practice, which could explain the growing popularity of these programs. If acquiring a depth and breadth of experience in a shorter amount of time is a priority, then a GPR or AEGD might be right for you.