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Dental General Practice Residency frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the VA Salt Lake City health care Dental General Practice Residency.

Q: What is the length of the program?

A: 12 months

Q: Does a general dentist cover clinic for specialty procedures?

A: In addition to 3-5 general dentists available for consults and instruction, the clinic has part-time specialists in endodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral medicine and oral surgery.

Q: Do residents do cleanings on their own patients?

A: At times it may be appropriate for a resident to perform cleanings. The clinic has one full-time hygienist that supports the residents and staff dentists, and during the school year also has dental hygiene students providing preventive care.

Q: Are there dental assistants available for the residents?

A: Yes. Assistant assignments are made daily.

Q: How often are the GPR residents on call for emergencies after hours?

A: Every fourth week.

Q: Are residents allowed to "moonlight" outside the VA during the residency?

A: Residents must be present for all clinical activities from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, but must also be available on a 24-hour basis. Therefore, no employment, dental or otherwise, is allowed outside the VA facility.

Q: What rotations are available?

A: Anesthesia and Primary Care. 

Q: What other certifications are available?

A: Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification is taught at the beginning of the year, and is required for IV sedation training.

Q: How many hours do you work per week? Not just clinic time but studying also?

A: Official clinic hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but there are some before and after clinic hours lectures. Residents probably average 50 hours per week - including studying and projects.  At the beginning of the year, there is much more studying to get you ready for the kind of procedures done in clinic - i.e.  IV sedation, ACLS course, full mouth rehabs, etc.

Q: How much of your own lab work do you do? (i.e. Do you wax your own dentures?) How good is the lab work you get back? (i.e. Do you spend forever adjusting crowns?)

A: Most lab work is done by the in-house lab. Some lab work is sent to the VA laboratory in Texas. It is recommended that residents do diagnostic wax ups of large esthetic and implant cases. The lab will pour impressions, mount cases, and section and trim dies. Residents can do more lab work if desired, but time would probably be better spent working on other projects and learning how to do new procedures/surgeries/implants - to get the greatest benefit. The quality of the in-house lab is very good. The biggest advantage of the in-house lab is that they are available to discuss the case with the practitioner in person.

Q: What is the pediatric experience like?

A: Due to patient population, there is no treatment of pediatric patients. However, there are pediatric and orthodontic lectures on the first and second Friday mornings of the month.

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the program in regards to procedures?

A: Strengths: Periodontics, Endodontics, Prosthodontics, Implants.  Weaknesses: Pedodontics, 3rd molar extraction (limited cases due to population)

Q: Can your patients afford the best work or are you always dealing with payment and Medicare limitations?

A: The dentistry is free. However, the patients must be eligible and there are different levels of eligibility. Most of our patients are eligible for comprehensive care. There is no shortage of cases.

If there are additional questions concerning this program or the application process, please call at 801-584-1206 or address correspondence to:

Michael R. Slater, D.D.S.
Director, General Practice Residency Program
Dental Service (160)
500 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84148