Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons fall into the Realistic Theme Code Category of The Strong Interest Inventory® Assessment. This assessment is used to match individuals to careers and leisure activities that align with their personal interests and preferences. This helps them find a career they will truly enjoy working in for many years to come. Careers in the Realistic Theme Code Category generally involve working with tools, or using one’s hands to accomplish a specific goal. People with a preference for The Strong Interest Inventory® Realistic Category of Careers often prefer to have concrete tasks that they need to accomplish, rather than having vague or loosely-structured goals, as is often the case in research.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OM Surgeons) perform surgery on the tissue, both hard and soft, around the mouth, jaws, and face. These procedures may treat diseases, like cancer and infections, injuries caused by a variety of traumas, and may improve individuals’ appearance. In addition to doing the actual procedures, OM Surgeons administer anesthetic either locally or generally, and coordinate a team that monitors the patient throughout the procedure. More specifically, they remove impacted or damaged teeth, treat infections in the salivary glands, jaws, neck, and oral cavity, remove tumors, ulcers, and infections, or even treat problems affecting the oral mucosa. Some OM Surgeons also treat lacerations and fractures to the Oral and Maxillofacial region, and may restore the form and function of the area by reconstructing parts of the skin, bone, nerves, and tissue of the jaws and face. In more complex cases, they coordinate treatment with other professionals, such as Restorative Dentists and Orthodontists, among others.
OM Surgeons use many different kinds of tools and technologies, from bandages, gauze, forceps, mirrors, mouth props, probes and burrs that are familiar from most trips to the Dentist, to more technical machines like Automated Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs) and Electrocardiography Monitors (EKGs), intravenous infusion pumps, and medical oxygen masks. When general anesthesia is being used, they use multiparameter vital sign monitors, pulse oximeters, patient carbon dioxide detectors, and other tools for ensuring that patients are stable during procedures. In some cases, use of surgical levers, bone biopsy mills, surgical packers or bone tampers, and even skin hooks and needle holders may be necessary.
In order to plan and visualize the procedures before they are performed, OM Surgeons rely on a variety of medical and graphics software, including DecisionBase TIME for OMS, Dolphin Imaging and Management Solutions, DSN Oral Surgery-Exec, Apteryx Imaging Suite, DentalEye software, and more. They also require a detailed knowledge of the biological sciences (e.g., Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Dentistry), as well as psychology and counseling, and customer and personal service. Because their patients and their families are often under stress, OM Surgeons treat their medical problems while also providing emotional support as much as possible.
As a result, OM Surgeons must complete years of Post-Baccalaureate study, including earning a MD and/or PhD, as well as several years of residency in order to earn a full certification. They solve complex, technical problems quickly and confidently, and make confident judgments that affect others. They should have strong listening, reading, and speaking skills in order to communicate with patients and colleagues, and be able to process large amounts of technical information quickly. On a physical level, OM Surgeons should possess a high level of arm-hand steadiness and finger dexterity, since they are conducting intricate procedures in small spaces. They need to be highly reliable and self-controlled. They are required to have strong attention to detail as the lives of their patients depend on it.
Around the country, Oral and Maxilliofacial Surgeons salaries average over $187,200 per year. Surgical residents are on the low end of the pay scale, at only $77,000 annually in New York and California, but their pay generally increases quickly once they gain more experience and attendee rank. In Texas, even the lowest paid Oral and Maxilliofacial Surgeons salaries near $100,000. The employment rates of these specialized surgeons are generally rising around the country, with rates expected to increase nearly 25% in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas by 2024. While employment trends may be slower elsewhere, they are not projected to decrease anywhere.
Below are some employment trends for Oral and Maxillary Surgeons:
- Median Salary: $100.00+ hourly, $208,000 annually
- Employment: 5,900 employees
- Projected growth (2018-2028): Faster than average (7% to 10%)
- Projected job openings (2018-2028): 200
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org