After over 18 months into the pandemic, industries have picked up the pieces amid the record unemployment figures and financial fallout. The dental industry is no different—the sector has seen high turnover and an increased reliance on dental temping to fill staffing roles adequately.
Though the beginning of COVID did not mark the beginning of the dental industry’s labor issues, it has undoubtedly exacerbated those pain points. Nearly half of dental hygienists have been actively seeking employment elsewhere. And, dental assistants have seen more turnover than any other position in the last five years, with more than half of that number doing so in the previous year. The dental industry has done a 180 since 2019. This has left dental leaders across North America scrambling to find solutions, whether permanent or temporary.
The Challenges That Dental Hygienists Face
The impact of the pandemic on dental temping is widespread. According to one survey, 43% of registered dental hygienists (RDH) have considered looking for a new job within the next year. While expressed dissatisfaction with clinical team members is partly to blame for RDHs looking elsewhere, the risks posed by COVID-19 and lower than normal patient volume have also played a role in this happening.
Depending on the practice, full-time dental hygienists typically make a quality salary, anywhere from $50,000 – $80,000 a year. However, nearly one-third of hygienists reported in the same survey that they were unhappy with their bonuses. Many reported a decrease in salary due to extended closures. Many registered hygienists have also been unhappy with their pay raises.
Several hygienists opted to retire during the pandemic or stepped away because of their doubts about how their practices would handle the risks associated with COVID-19. Weighing the risk-reward ratio, many hygienists have taken time away from the profession to reassess their options.
Dental Assistants Have Felt the Brunt of the Pandemic Fallout
There is no other position in dentistry that’s been drastically affected by the pandemic. Typically, dental assistants make between $21,000 and $50,000 a year. More than half of these assistants express dissatisfaction with their base salary. Additionally, around 60% of assistants have indicated their displeasure with the process used by their practices to determine the value of raises, such as an hour-based model.
More than 10% of dental assistants from the survey mentioned above were unemployed, indicating that their position has experienced the most furloughs throughout the pandemic. Dental assistants experience more turnover than any other position in dentistry, in part, due to burnout. More than two-thirds of dental assistants have been working for less than five years. Additionally, many of them applying for new positions within the last year.
Dental temping is necessary, considering that 36% of dentists now receive less compensation for their services than before the pandemic. Also, many dental professionals who have been working more hours have been compensated less, leading them to look elsewhere for employment. Many employees were also forced to use their paid vacation and sick leave to cover their office shutdown. They did not receive payment during this time.
Overall, the dental industry is rife with practices that boast a turnover rate of over 10%. Plus, the costs for replacing dental staff are typically high. This is where dental temping offers a much-needed solution for dental leaders trying to prevent damage to their business.
How Much Has the Industry Turned to Dental Temping?
Many practices opt for dental temping. This helps offset the dental staffing issues that persist in today’s dentistry.
Given the fluctuating patient volumes caused by the pandemic and accompanying restrictions that can change at any time, dental practices need to ensure that they always have dental staffing available to handle any number of customer queries. With temporary dental staff, practices can help steady the workforce, especially during busy periods. Dental leaders benefit from dental temping as they only pay temporary workers for the hours they worked, allowing them to keep their staffing budgets down while providing top-notch care to their patients.
Not only do dental practices benefit from hiring temporary dental staff, but dental temping provides people with the opportunity to maximize their income potential, an unlimited potential at that. Furthermore, temps have various opportunities for hands-on experience within one or multiple offices. Dental temping also allows temporary employees to choose their schedule, receive tax breaks like deductibles and determine their location. The flexibility with temporary dental staff is strong, making hiring temporary dental staff a more attractive proposition for dental leaders.
More companies have taken on temporary dental staff to fill tasks usually reserved for dental hygienists, allowing hygienists to make more use of their time and see more patients. With this approach, dental practices have optimized cost structures. As more dental temping services become available across North America, dental practices can better handle placement. As a result, they can focus more on providing the right amenities and optimizing work conditions so that incoming staff feels comfortable in their work environments.
Dental Temping Can Address Financial Uncertainty and Workforce Restraints
Employees have made it clear that they are unhappy with their pay. Additionally, they feel that they have not received enough compensation for their hours during the pandemic. More hygienists, assistants, and other dental professionals are leaving their posts because of the uncertainty surrounding their financial futures. And many are suffering from burnout. As a result, dental leaders need ready-made solutions to cover these issues. Dental temping is one such solution beneficial to the practices that turn to them and the staff themselves.
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