1. HOW THE PROFESSION IS ORGANIZED IN NEW YORK
As a dentist, you must be licensed to practice dentistry in the State of New York. The New York Department of Education Office of the Professions (NYSED-OP) regulates the profession in New York. They give New York licenses by both Acceptance of Examination (for first time licenses) and by endorsement of existing licenses. NYSED-OP also manages Dental Sedation permits that allow licensed dentists to administer local and general anesthesia.
The National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) is the qualifying examination for a New York dental license. This examination is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations of the American Dentist Association (ADA). However, this is the last step in a longer process of education and examinations that international dentists must complete to practice in the state.
This guide assumes you are an international dentist who has permanent U.S. work authorization but is only now beginning to rebuild your career in the U.S. Therefore, the guide will include steps that come before the final state licensing process, including: 2 or more years of an Advanced Standing Program for International Dentists, 2 exams, and completion of a residency program.
The vast majority of dentists practicing in the U.S. are self-employed in individual or group practices with a small staff. Staff usually includes one or more dental assistants or dental hygienists. These roles are explained in more detail in the section Other Careers and Credentials. Some international dentists decide to become dental assistants or dental hygienists.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most dentists are generalists (about 89%) and take care of a variety of dental needs. Orthodontists, who straighten and reposition teeth, are the largest group of specialists within dentistry. They make up less than 6% of all dentists. Average earnings of dentists in the State of New York is $149,370 as of 2010.
At this time there is only moderate growth expected in dentistry. This is partly because of new dental treatment technologies and the increased role of dental hygienists and assistants in oral health. Most new job opportunities in dentistry will come from dentists’ retirements or from increased demand as a result of an aging population who have a greater need of dental care. Cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening and braces for all ages are other sources of expanding dental practice.
2. ELIGIBILITY FOR LICENSING
This section explains 5 important steps that you need to complete before you can be licensed to practice dentistry in New York. The steps to licensing are as follows:
Dentist licensing map
I. FILE AN APPLICATION FOR LICENSURE
The first step in the process of obtaining licensure in the State of New York is to file Form 1 – Application for Licensure, along with the $645 fee for licensure and first registration to the Office of the Professions. Your signature on this form must be notarized by a Notary Public.
II. PREREQUISITES AND COMPLETION OF ACCELERATED US DENTAL DEGREE PROGRAM: NBDE I, TOEFL, CREDENTIAL EVALUATION, AND 2+ YEARS STUDY
DEGREE PROGRAMS AND INTERNATIONAL DENTISTS
New York requires foreign graduates of dental programs not approved by the American Dental Association must earn a US dental degree, either through participation in an accredited program specifically targeted to international dentists, or as students with advanced standing (earning the equivalent of transfer credit based on foreign education). In either case, these programs usually are 2-3 years long, but they result in a US or Canadian degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).
Program names, length and content can vary – so one program description is offered below as an example. The Important Links section lists the other institutions offering accredited dental programs for international dentists in the state of New York.
The programs can be very competitive and to enter you will need to meet several prerequisites, including but not limited to:
- Passage of an English-language test if you were not instructed in English (TOEFL or other tests)
- Credential evaluation for purposes of education (World Education Service, Educational Credential Evaluators or others)
- Passage of NBDE Part I (this will be explained in detail in the Important Links section)
EXAMPLE: NEW YORK UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF DENTISTRY ADVANCED PLACEMENT DDS PROGRAM
- 3-year program ending in a DDS degree (full time)
- Only open to U.S. permanent residents, refugees or asylees
- Minimum score of 90 on the TOEFL Internet Based Test (iBT)
- Pass Part I of the National Dental Board Examination
- TOEFL and review of dental degree required
- Program costs are near $214,000 for 2012 – but financial aid is available
CONSIDERING EDUCATIONAL DEBT
The cost of the program may be higher than you can imagine paying. It is also likely that other U.S. dental schools will have similar costs for Advanced Standing Programs. Graduate education in the U.S. tends to be very expensive. However, you must consider this debt in the context of your future earning potential. Before you make a final decision, you should get advice from a dental school financial aid administrator or career counselor. Discuss the cost and map out the ways you may be able to pay back the loan. If necessary, you can consider other lower-level positions in the dental field. These positions can help you progress towards licensing or even become a more permanent career change for you – see Other Careers and Credentials for more information.
III. EDUCATION RECORDS TO OFFICE OF PROFESSIONS
Once you have completed the educational requirement you will have to submit a Form 2 – Certification of Professional Education for each institution where you have attended a dental program or taken coursework, including all of your foreign education. Fill out Section I and mail the form to the Registrar or student records office; the office should fill out Section II and prepare transcripts according to the instructions, then mail the documents directly to the address that is listed for the Office of the Professions. If your documents are not in English, then you can supply a translation yourself and send it separately, or have a translation included by your university.
Your US international dentist program not only must deliver transcripts from your program, but it will also need to provide records of all courses it accepted for transfer credit, including the name of the institution from which credit was transferred.
IV. CHILD ABUSE AND INFECTION CONTROL TRAINING CERTIFICATES
In addition to the professional education requirement, in order to obtain a limited permit for Step 5, your experience requirement, you must complete coursework or training in 2 important practice processes:
IDENTIFICATION AND REPORTING OF CHILD ABUSE
You must submit a Certificate of Completion from an approved provider or file a Certification of Exemption if you can prove your practice does not put you in contact with persons under the age of 18, or adults with a handicapping condition who reside in a residential care school or facility. For a list of approved providers of these courses please see the Important Links section.
INFECTION CONTROL AND BARRIER PRECAUTION TO PREVENT HIV AND HBV TRANSMISSION
To prove completion of this training you will have to submit an Attestation of Compliance or Exemption from the infection control coursework requirement, Form 1IC, within 90 days of your date of licensure. For a list of accredited providers in the state of New York please see the Important Links section.
The approximate fee for both of these trainings is $30 each and can be completed in a matter of days. You will have to repeat these trainings every four years.
V. LIMITED PERMIT + RESIDENCY PROGRAM
The next step in the process of obtaining licensure is to complete a dental Residency Program at least one year long. This requirement came into effect in 2007 and replaced a clinical exam that was once required in the state.
Before you begin a Residency Program to comply with the New York experience requirement, you will have to apply for Form 5 – Limited Permit, and pay a $105 fee to the Office of the Professions. Your signature on this form should also be notarized by a Notary Public. You can only qualify for the Limited Permit once you have completed the state education requirement and child abuse training.
The Limited Permit will allow you to practice dentistry only under the supervision of a New York State dentist and only in a registered school of dentistry to instruct and supervise clinical dentistry or hygiene for students. A supervising dentist always has to be present when professional services are given. You may complete a residency program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, CODA, in either a clinical specialty or in general dentistry. For a list of accredited programs see the Important Links section.
The Office of the Professions must receive verification of completion of the approved residency program directly from the residency program director, and you will have to complete Form 4B – Certification of Completion of Clinical Residency Program.
The limited permit is valid for one year or until ten days after you are notified that your application for licensure was denied. A limited permit which has not expired may be renewed annually until your residency is completed (new forms and fees each year).
VI. PASS NBDE II
The last step toward licensing is to pass Part II of the National Board Dental Examination.
The Office of the Professions must receive a report of your passing scores directly from the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Because you completed a program of dental education in an unregistered and unaccredited dental school outside the United States, contact the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations for orientation regarding your specific licensing process.
Once you have successfully passed the NBDE Part I and II the New York Board of Pharmacy will make a licensing decision.
NATIONAL BOARD DENTAL EXAMINATION PART I
The NBDE Part I is a computer-based exam available year-round through the testing company Prometric.
The 8 1/2-hour test consists of 400 multiple choice questions broken into 4 basic content areas.
- Anatomic Sciences
- Biochemistry and Physiology
- Dental Anatomy and Occlusion
- Microbiology Pathology
2012 Fee: $345
If you fail any part of the NBDE Part I you can retake it separately for additional fees.
NATIONAL BOARD DENTAL EXAMINATION PART II
The application process is similar to NBDE Part I and can be completed online. Prometric administers the test on a rolling basis.
NBDE Part II lasts over 12 hours and is taken in 2 days. It is a 500-question multiple choice test.
Day 1 has 400 questions from 9 discipline areas:
- Operative dentistry
- Oral and maxillofacial surgery/ pain control
- Oral diagnosis
- Orthodontics-pediatric dentistry
- Patient management
Day 2 has 100 questions based on case simulations. The tester will review a variety of case materials presented on the screen and answer several questions about one patient at a time.
2012 Fee: $390
4. TIME AND COSTS
Successfully licensing as a Dentist in New York depends on many factors. Just some of these include:
- The completeness of your educational and professional records
- Your performance on several tests
- Your ability to attend and finance a 3-year full-time Dental program
We provide two hypothetical scenarios to show some of the variety of results that immigrant professionals may find when they seek to become dentists in Illinois. Please consider these scenarios as two examples out of many possibilities. Your experience will vary.
TWO HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIOS FOR DENTIST LICENSING:
|Step||More Efficient Scenario|
Approximate Time and Cost
|Less Efficient Scenario
Approximate Time and Cost
|1 File an Application for Licensure||Your Application for Licensure and first registration go smoothly|
|Your Application for Licensure and first registration go smoothly
|2 Prerequisites and completion of international dentist program, Including NBDE I, TOEFL, credential evaluation, and 2+ years study||You do not need to take the TOEFL; getting your credentials evaluated is quick and not very expensive; you take the NBDE I in 6 months and pass on the first try|
You apply for a few programs, and are accepted in a 2 1/2 year program 6 months later, costing $100,000 after scholarships and financial aid
$100,800 + 3 years
|You pass the TOEFL on the first try; getting your credentials is difficult and costly; you take NBDE I in 10 months but fail one section and retake it 6 months later
It takes you a year and a half to be accepted into a 2 1/2 year program, which costs you $120,000 after financial aid
$121,000 + about 4 years
|3 Education records to Office of the Professions||Gathering your credentials for the Office of the Professions is not difficult and the process takes just 2 months|
|Gathering your credentials is somewhat difficult and there are issues in review that delay your time to 4 months
|4 Child Abuse and Infection Control training certificates||It takes you 1 week to complete the Child Abuse and Infection Control trainings. You complete them while you finish your education requirement|
|It takes you 1 extra month once you have finished your education requirement to complete the Child Abuse and Infection Control trainings.
$60 + 1 month
|5 Limited Permit + Residency Program||You obtain the Limited Permit immediately after you apply and it takes you 1 1/2 years to apply for and complete a residency program.|
$105 + 1 1/2 years
|It takes you 4 months to obtain the Limited Permit after you applied and it takes you 2 years to complete the residency program. You have to renew your permit after the first year.
$210 + 2 years
|6 Examination Part I and II||t takes you four months to prepare for the NBDE and you pass parts I and II on your first try. You receive your license two months later.|
$735 + 6 months
|You pass the NBDE Part I once you are eligible to take it. After two and a half years you graduate and take NBDE Pt. II, which you pass.
$7350 + 1 year
|More Efficient Total|
About $102,500 and 5 1/2 years
|Less Efficient Total
About $122,500 and 7 1/2 years
5. OTHER CAREERS AND CREDENTIALS
LOWER-LEVEL JOB OPPORTUNITIES
You may want to consider whether taking a lower-level job in a dental practice in the short term can help you meet longer-term goals of licensing as a DDS. Working in your field in a different capacity and with fewer responsibilities may offer you some advantages:
More energy to focus on studying and saving money for an Advanced Standing DDS program
A chance to adapt to the US healthcare system and workplace culture in a lower-pressure environment
If you choose any of these positions as a step towards licensing, be sure to explain your long-term plans to your employer. You may find that some employers offer benefits such as tuition reimbursement or schedule flexibility that can support your goals.
The state of New York also regulates and licenses dental hygienists in the state. Dental hygienists must complete a 2 or 4 year training program and pass the Dental Hygiene exam (written and clinical parts) from the National Board of Dental Examination before being licensed. Preventive dental treatment is the main responsibility of a dental hygienist: in the U.S. it is unusual for a dentist to perform routine cleanings of patients’ teeth. Hygienists are even able to administer nitrous oxide to patients if they complete a short training. Hygienists who work for smaller practices may work part-time or work in more than one office. A part-time hygienist earning an hourly wage may not have full medical benefits but will often receive inexpensive or free dental care. Experienced, salaried dental hygienists can earn $70,000. Many International Dentists decide to become Dental Hygienists as a permanent career change instead of returning to dental practice; others use it as a first step towards re-establishing themselves as dentists in the U.S.
DENTAL LAB TECHNICIAN
Dental lab technicians do not need a license to work. They create and repair dental prosthetics and other accessories used by dentists. On-the-job training is the norm for this position, so if you developed this skill through dental practice, you may find it easy to qualify for this position immediately.
A dental assistant works in a dental office helping with non-medical parts of dental procedures like preparing patients, and keeping the mouth clean and instruments ready for use by the dentist. Dental assistants work under the supervision of a licensed dentist and need to obtain a license from the NYSDE-OP. The process of obtaining license includes an education and an examination requirement.
6. BEYOND LICENSING
Licenses expire every three years: 2012, 2015 etc. NYSED-OP sends a notice to you reminding you to renew your license, so be certain to keep your contact information up-to-date with their office. If you let your license expire, you will have a much more complicated process to restore the license. You must also document 60 contact hours of continuing education over each 3-year registration period.
JOINING A PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION
State and national associations for dentists provide opportunities for professional development and networking. They also help set acceptable working conditions for the profession and give information and opinions on policy in Illinois and across the U.S. Their websites may offer useful orientation to dental candidates about the licensing and examination process, including test preparation. They often provide Continuing Education to members as well.
- New York State Dental Society
- American Dental Association
Beyond these two general associations, there are a large variety of professional associations for dentists that emphasize a dentist’s specialty discipline, race and ethnicity, gender, or religion.
LICENSING MOBILITY (RECIPROCITY)
The state of New York grants licensing to dentists through Acceptance of Examination (the process described in this topic), or by Endorsement. A dentist licensed in another state, who wants to practice in New York, must independently meet all New York requirements for licensing. If you become licensed in New York and want to practice dentistry in another state, you will need to research the legal requirements for that state.
APPLYING FOR A DENTAL ANESTHESIA SEDATION PERMIT
You must already be a licensed dentist in New York before you can apply to NYSED-OP for a Dental Sedation Permit. To employ general anesthesia, and any type of sedation, dentists must meet additional requirements and obtain a dental anesthesia/sedation certificate from the New York State Education Department. In case you want to be certified to perform anesthesia and/or sedation you will have to complete the Application for Anesthesia/Sedation Certificate along with a $100 fee. For more information on how to obtain the certificate and its requirements see the Important Links section.
7. IMPORTANT LINKS
LICENSING AND REGULATION:
- The New York State Education Office of the Professions page has alllicensing applications for Dentists and Dental Hygienists; Phone: 518/474-3817
- All forms required during the licensing process can also be found in the NYSED-OP website
- You must apply for an Anesthesia/Sedation Certificate to use general anesthesia or sedation
ADVANCED STANDING PROGRAM FOR INTERNATIONAL DENTISTS:
- NYU College of Dentistry Advanced Placement DDS Program
- Columbia University College of Dental Medicine offers a 2.5 years program for Non-US trained dentists
- University of Buffalo offers an International Dentist Program
- The American Dental Association has a list of institutions that offer accredited dental programs
- National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part I Page
- National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part II Page
- The American Dental Association offers NBDE sample test questions for Part I and Part II
TRAININGS (LIST OF PROVIDERS):
- Child Abuse Identification and Reporting provider list
- Infection Control provider list and Completion or Exempt Form 1IC
GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Be your own advocate throughout the licensing process. Seek clarification about questions and concerns directly from official sources. Organize your questions and ask for assistance.
FIND OUT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID
The very high cost of programs for International Dentists is a big obstacle to licensing. However, since it is a degree program, you are eligible for financial aid. You should first ask to speak with a financial aid counselor to get a better understanding about your ability to pay. Educational debt is common in the U.S. and you need to consider the income you expect to make after finishing your education.