Pathology, Physics, Biostatistics and What?… There’s more?

This semester is quickly starting to gain traction.  Between all of these classes I have a feeling I will start pulling out my own hair.  That being said, I am truly enjoying the residency and the learning experience.

Honestly, there is so much involvement in radiology I am surprised that the dental model hasn’t been using radiologists much much longer.  The amount of information that I probably missed while practicing as a dentist is baffling.  So much science and even diagnosis behind it that really just wasn’t taught very well in dental school.  If it was, I sure as hell missed it.  Bottom line, if you plan on having a cone beam CT machine (and trust me you do), you better be referring to an oral and maxillofacial radiologist.


  1. Hey there,

    Found your blog online. I am actually applying to OMFR this year. I was curious to know a little bit more about how you envision your future career path using your OMFR training. I’m open to academic and private practice options, but personally lean a little bit more towards private practice. I was wondering if you had some thoughts of your own, and what you’ve heard from your faculty about how to navigate post-graduation.

  2. To be honest there are more opportunities in OMFR that I would have imagined. Personally I am interested in pursuing both academic and private practice. Maybe more private practice than academic at first, just to pay some bills. With CBCTs emergence in dentistry, the demand for radiologists is increasing. Also, with the development of SWIFT MRI, you could see a huge change in imaging in dentistry all together over the next decade or so. Both of these modalities will require training and radiologists. That’s the vibe that I pick up lately regarding radiology. Is it going to be a money making machine? Some say yes, some say no. Personally I doubt it will make more than general dentistry. In any case, doing private practice you will have to be very good at being alone. That, for most radiologists, is why they go back to academic to teach.

  3. A further question, if I may. What sort of private practice opportunities exist? Are there dental imaging centers that hire oral radiologists to interpret CBCT’s? Or are most oral radiologists, independent businessmen who own there own imaging lab and offer services to the wider public? What sort of private practice setup are you expecting to pursue. Thanks!

  4. Both are available. Personally I am more interested in pursuing a private practice from home where I get most of my readings from other dentists. Currently there are OMFR group practices where they supply you with computer and software and you can simply read from home. This is what interests me, although I’m not sure if I want to be part of a group practice.

    On the other hand you can open your own advanced imaging center, right now I see a limited future in this mainly because CBCT machines have dropped in price significantly. I see single practitioners purchasing machines for their office rather than referring out to advanced imaging centers. Now if SWIFT MRI becomes a reality, then I can see how advanced imaging centers would be very successful. MRI machines are simply too large for private practice. Over the next decade or so I believe panoramic imaging will become obsolete and CBCT will be the standard of care in most practices. This is why demand for OMFRs is increasing.

    A third option is to get involved with hospitals and ENTs as well. Those would be a very good referral base and you can be employed by them. Hope this answers your questions.

  5. I just recently found this blog as I too am interested in going into this field…I just spoke to Dr. Noujeim today on the phone to get more information. Do you think you could email me with information on your qualifications to see if I have a chance at getting accepted. Am looking to apply for the 2013 year. Thanks in advance for this blog and any information you can provide.

  6. I won’t email you my grades, they’re not that good, but I would be more than happy to take a look at yours. If you would like you can post your standings here or check your email.

    Just to give you an idea, OMFR is not a very competitive field to get into. For most people it is simply too singular. You really don’t communicate with people much, and so most people tend to be less interested. Essentially it is a lonesome practice. That being said if you have a real interest in radiology, as do I, then you can’t go wrong.

  7. Hi! I’m so glad i came across your posts. I too am considering radiology and have a bunch of questions. Hopefully you can help me answer some of these. First off, I am concerned about the salary. I read and have heard that OMFRs don’t make that much, but at my dental school the radiologists say they make more than people think. Is this because they’re working in an academic setting as the head of the dept? If i just wanted regular work hours, will the pay become an issue? Also, I read that you were deciding between ortho and radio. What made you choose radio in the end? Im leaning towards radio because I think it will be more science related and more diagnostic which I love, but Im not very fond of physics. Will that be a problem? Lastly, how competitive is OMFR? is it just as competitive as ortho? Do you know the ranges of part I scores OMFRs usually get or need to get in? Sorry for bombarding you with questions. Can’t wait to hear back from you. Thanks!

  8. Hi,
    I’ll do my best to try to answer your questions. I had a frank discussion with some faculty regarding salary. A realistic range will be around 150k. This is based on someone who reads part time. The 150k is just from working at home, and from my understanding more can be made if you want. It just depends on how much you feel like sitting in front of a computer reading scans and writing reports. To me 150k a year doesn’t seem like much for a specialty, so I would imagine most people go for other specialties that make more money. Even general practice can make more money (in my first year practicing I was already above that).

    Schools do pay, but depending on the school the pay can vary. Private schools will pay a much more than state universities. More likely though, the reason they are making more is because of the fast adoption of cone beam CT imaging in dental practices. It is the future and will quickly become the standard and dentists are simply not trained to read them properly. Even if they were, they don’t have the time, they take about 15 minutes each. They are also quickly discovering that contrary to popular belief, having a patient sign a waiver on a CBCT scan doesn’t mean anything. Dentists are still liable for any missed diagnosis.

    I would imagine if you worked regular hours, 8 hours a day, you would be somewhere in the mid 200s, but this is a pure guess and really depends on how good you are and how many reports a day you read. On average, the cheapest I’ve seen a report charge out is 65 dollars. Experienced radiologists can do about 4 or 5 an hour, you can do the math there. If you keep busy it can add up to a very big sum. That’s my plan till I pay off my student loans.

    As far as between ortho and radio, it came down to what I enjoyed. For about a year, I actually went to learn ortho with my uncle, who happens to be an orthodontist. It was fun, but it wasn’t for me. Radiology has a very calm and relaxed lifestyle. I would be able to work from home and I personally love the idea of waking up whenever I feel like and not having to deal with traffic daily. Ortho is a great lifestyle too, just not for me. Radio has interested me since before I even started dental school, and the fact that it is a technology driven field (and myself being a self proclaimed nerd), it just was the perfect fit.

    Physics is just about everything as far as radiology is concerned. If you don’t get physics or just absolutely hate it, then this might not be the right field for you. You have to know your physics inside out and how it applies to forming an image. This will help you figure out if something is an artifact on an image, or a malignancy. Also, it is a HUGE part of the boards. If you wanna specialize and plan on getting certified, then you need to know your physics. That being said, this isn’t your high school or college physics. It is very interesting, very challenging and well worth the time put into it.

    It’s definitely not as competitive as ortho, although it is way more competitive than it used to be. To give you an example, my particular program three years ago couldn’t fill all their spots. When I applied last year there were two spots and sixty candidates. Those are horrible odds and it’s getting more competitive every year. Right now there are 5 people doing a preceptorship and applying for next year. Our conference room can’t hold all the residents and the people trying to get into the program anymore. If you’re ready to apply I would suggest doing so as soon as you can. Being a graduate from an American school will really help your chances right now.

    Range of scores can vary from school to school. My particular program isn’t big into grades, they prefer working experience. Since my practice was a very technologically advanced practice, with my own CBCT machine, the program appreciated it. I understood CAD/CAM dentistry very well, implants, implant planning and the importance of interpretation. I got lucky and my timing just happened to be right.

    Hope this helps. Sorry for the long post.

  9. i would like to know how competitive is the acceptance into the oral and maxillofacial radiology program , and what is the least competitive school

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