DISCLAIMER: The next few posts will be a series of submissions from a guest blogger. These posts are unedited and solely the opinion of the author. They do not represent the views of armydentistry.com, the US Army, The US Army Dental Corps, AMEDD, or DENCOM.
Preface from the author
This is a collection of stories from my time as a dental corps officer. I signed up for the HPSP scholarship as soon as I got accepted to dental school. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I completed a 12-Month AEGD through the Army upon graduating dental then spent another 7 months at that assignment. I was then transferred to a new location and that’s when I experienced the “real army dental corps”. I had no idea how good I had it in my residency.
I will be leaving the Army in less than a month. I wanted to save and put this together in order to remind myself how dental corps operates. People tend to only remember the “good times” and I am all for that, but I don’t want to be tempted to ever return to the Army Dental Corps.
Lastly, I would like to just say that I have no problems with the Army at all. Despite what you are about to read, I love working with soldiers. They are the best patients in the world. My big issue is with the Dental Corps itself. From the lowest OIC to the highest commander at DENCOM, the system is just insane and nearly drove me insane.
About the Diary
The stories below are all true. They might be all from “my point of view” but they are all true. I have removed some names of people for their own privacy, but I personally know them all. This isn’t in any way a complete account for my time. These are simply the more humorous stories that best represent the way the corps. All the emails are DIRECT copies and ALL the picture are unaltered.
Below are some terms we use to help clear things up.
OIC: “Officer-In-Charge” Clinic Manager and Supervisor. Usually, a full bird Colonel.
Commander: The Boss. They usually are in charge of all the clinics in the area.
NCO: “Non-Commissioned Officer” Enlisted soldiers who work as admins in the clinic.
AEGD: Post Doctorate training program in general dentistry.
Bravo: A person who completed a 2 year AEGD. In this Diary, it’s the same person.
Bay Docs: Staff General Dentists. The ‘bitches’ of the clinic. I am one of them.
GFC: “Going Frist Class”; One of several poorly designed practice models that “big army” has mandated. This model is hated by everyone in the clinics. Including OIC’s
Facts about the Clinic
– Clinic management will announce over the loudspeaker that the walk-in exam doctor needs help because they cannot keep up with the exams and is running behind…while at the same time continuing to add more exams onto that doctor’s schedule.
– If your assistant is absent, the person who stands at the front door and who is in charge of the morning sign in and accountability will get angry with you later that morning for not informing them of your assistant’s absence.
– The clinic management consults the least productive general dentist in the clinic on how to make the other, more productive general dentists, more efficient.
– If you add up the FOUR highest ranking (and highest paid) officers in the clinic, their COMBINED production is less than the lowest paid general dentist in the clinic.
– The general dentist in charge of GFC is also the ONLY general dentist who has NEVER done a single day of GFC.
– As the dentist you have absolutely no input on the annual performance review of your own assistants. It is done by someone who has never worked with them.
– Your assistant is required to fill out, sign, submit, and get approval for absences in the clinic. The NCOIC, practice manager, and clinic secretary each get a copy of this leave form. You are not given a copy or any notice of any type. Then, when your assistant is out, the same people who approve (and have copies of that leave form) will get confused and angry if you do not inform them that your assistant is out.
– Enlisted DENTAC soldiers are given PT time three days a week and go to the weapons range on a regular basis…and have no chance of deploying even if they volunteer. DENTAC officers (dentists) are given one day of PT time, no opportunity to qualify on the shooting range, and yet get regularly tasked for combat deployments.
– You are required to wear you full uniform into work. Then you change into scrubs for clinic. Then back to uniform for lunch. Then back to scrubs for afternoon. Then change back to uniform when you go home. So you change clothes 4 times every day. The Army dental corps is the only group that does this, even the doctors at the hospital just keep a uniform at work if they ever need it, which is rare.