Just as the rest of the world has for the most part recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some lingering elements continuing to impact the field of dentistry today. As patients seem to be beginning to return and dental employment seems to be recovering more, there remains the issue of a labor shortage preventing dentists’ ability to service their patients well. Quick services in the dental office are suffering as a result of the struggle across the country to find, train and employ team members.
For the good news, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that “employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.” However, the challenge is still real for the moment, as some employees transferred to other occupations or retired during the pandemic. This projected trend may be slow in coming to fruition.
Which Positions are the Hardest to Fill?
As dental practices struggle to schedule appointments at capacity, the following positions have been the most problematic to fill:
- Dental hygienists – More than 75% of dentists had a lack of applicants due to high wage and benefit demands. And as a result, the hiring shortage was fueled.
- Dental assistants – These positions were the second hardest to fill due to lack of applicants and unqualified or poor applicants. It is reported by over 50% of dentists.
Other positions which were also categorized as hard to fill were qualified dentists and administrative personnel. Qualified dentists and administrative personnel
Why are Dental Jobs Hard to Fill?
The main reason dental staffing jobs are among the hardest to fill is the skills and training requirements for hygienists and assistants. These are both highly skilled positions that are not quickly fillable. The requirement of a Bachelor’s Degree to become a hygienist, along with years of training and experience within a clinical setting, makes it harder to qualify in a short period of time. On the other hand, dental assistants do not require as much training. However, they still must obtain a license and some formal training.
Another reason is the earnings and benefits being offered by dental practices are not meeting expectations. And as a result, there are fewer students who want to become dental hygienists and assistants. Dental hygiene instruction requires larger class sizes to teach in-person skills, and the class size has decreased. Therefore, there are fewer students in the classrooms to do hands-on participation in learning, which yields fewer graduates in these fields.
It seems that requests for the following are other reasons contributing to burnout among dental staff:
- higher pay
- more appreciation incentives
- less toxic job environment
How Can You Attract the Right Talent?
Keeping in mind your practice’s long-term needs and vision is the important thing in considering the right candidate to hire for your dental practice. In order to fill vacancies with the right employees, there are a few things you need to accomplish to find them as quickly as possible.
First of all, you may want to consider using several dental job boards near you. These could save you time in finding your ideal team candidate. Your current office team could be recruited to lead you to finding new prospective employees by spreading the word you are hiring as well. You may even make it worth it for them to help by rewarding them if you actually hire their prospect.
Next, make your interview process as quick and friendly as possible. Let the candidates know clearly what you are looking for in a new team member, along with what the benefits are in becoming a member of your team. Allow them to ask questions about the role you are hiring for. Satisfy their need for knowledge about the position as quickly as possible.
Don’t hesitate to set up a meeting with candidates who seem promising to both you and your dental staff. You may have to be somewhat flexible when hiring a new employee during this time. Moreover, you may want to consider hiring for short-term or even re-hiring someone at a later date. In the alternative, hire a candidate with less experience if they have the proper credentials. Or consider hiring someone on a part-time basis if they have the experience you are seeking. As this will cost you less for the time being.
Finally, be sure to take advantage of all the many locations available to you while seeking potential job candidates. Hopefully, you are adding your profile to premium job boards so you can stand out to many potential candidates for employment. It is very challenging to find the right applicants in today’s tough job market, but the team at Strategic Practice Solutions Dental Staffing can assist you in the most cost-effective way to identify and locate top talent through our Dental Staffing/Recruiting Portal. Check us out today!