Dreaming of sand, sea, and the islands?  Who wouldn’t want to live and work in paradise.   As a dentist, you have chosen a career in a field that provides a good degree of mobility.   State boards are increasingly transitioning to large regional licensing examinations and ending the old State licensing exam requirements.   Hawaii has joined those ranks, and you can obtain licensure by passing the ADEX examination.   Almost all applicants must be graduates of an ADA CODA approved University based dental education program with a DDS/DMD degree.   As a component of that, you will need to have passed Part I and II of the National Board Dental Examinations.   You will also need to submit to a search through the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

Any kind of interstate move is challenging, both personally and professionally.   It will take considerable research and effort before you commit to moving thousands of miles  across the Pacific.   Island life is different and requires a whole new outlook on your views of dental practice and career development.  Keep your ultimate goals in mind. Decreased stress and a slower lifestyle may mean the difference between life and death.

If you have been ill or severely injured, you may find that you can still practice.  Possibly  not at the same level of efficiency, but you can still practice at a reduced level.  For those who are just tired of shoveling snow and endless traffic jams, island life may be the answer to your prayers.   In either case, moving to Hawaii is huge committment and will require serious thought regarding your personal and professional future.   For a disabled or burned-out dentist, living and working in the islands may be the best decision you have ever made.

You will not be alone in this quest and be aware that some island dental markets are saturated.  Reports on reimbursement vary, and it is very possible your salary will be less than your current level.  It is a fact that the cost of island living is higher than the mainland, and you need to factor that into your financial planning.  The major metropolitan areas such as Honolulu are very competitive, but the suburbs outlying the cities have documented dental need.  Medicaid is a considerable part of rural practice in the islands.   Each island is unique in its dental needs, but Molokai and Kauai have more potential for those seeking rural practice opportunities.   Make no mistake; there are very productive, modern, and innovative practices on the islands.   Research the market before committing.

There is a noted subset of dental practices on the islands.  Most practices are conventional, but there are a number of dentists who practice part-time intentionally. Whether they are senior dentists or those who just want to run a minimal practice as a personal preference, they will be offered for sale at some point.  Buying or working in a practice that runs only 2 days a week is challenging.   On the other hand, maybe it’s what you want.

Practices for sale don’t last long on the open market, and actually investing time in visiting the local dental community is highly advised.  Word of mouth is an “ace in the hole”, for those interested in a quality practice either as an owner or as an associate. A few minutes spent online will give you an idea what is available now, and understand the secondary, non-advertised market is very critical to seeing the real need for dental practitioners on the islands.


Can my family and I adjust to island life?

What are my financial expectations and are they realistic?

Are we prepared for constant sun and the lack of 4 seasons?

Can we adjust to leaving our extended family far behind?

Which island are we moving to?

Do we understand that living in Hawaii is different from vacationing there?

Should I buy a practice or work as an associate to start?

Are we prepared for the higher cost of living?

Hawaii ranks fourth in the nation is the number of dentists per capita. It’s not the highest, but may seem like that in Honolulu or downtown Hilo.  There are 854 dentists currently with an increasing population approaching 1.5 million.  Economic growth is forecast as good with a strong private sector economy at the present time.   PPO and HMO dentistry is present in force, and insurance payments have been in line with their large control of the market in a small geographic area.  The lower reimbursement rates are an issue.

Yes, it will rain endlessly and everything rusts. There are insect issues you may not see elsewhere.  You may have problems getting your pet into the state initially and everything takes more time. Who cares?  You are on island time now!!!!

We do not intend to discourage your efforts and having an encore career in Hawaii is an admirable and honorable pursuit.  Remember; Hawaii is a Paradise , but it is not Heaven. Many dentists become discouraged and leave after a few years.   All will regret that in the long run.  Do your homework and make good decisions now for you and your family.      We will see you on the beach! ALOHA…………









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