dental temp

Where have all the active dental job seekers gone? From dentists to dental hygienists and assistants, job vacancies for permanent dental positions abound in 2022. At the same time, dental job applications are few and far between.

Data gathered by the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) in their 2022 Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry report showed that 92% of dentists had found recruitment extremely or very difficult this year. According to the HPI, these hiring challenges have led to a roughly 11% decrease in overall practice capacity.

The solution to the post-pandemic dental labor shortage is complex but necessary. Dental leaders and HR managers are scratching their heads, wondering where they can locate these highly sought-after and valuable healthcare resources and if anything will tempt them back to rejoin their colleagues in the dental industry.

Is Dental Job Temping the Missing Piece of the Hiring Puzzle?

Research in 2022 has repeatedly emphasized that increased workplace flexibility is key to improved staff engagement, retention, and employee satisfaction, especially in a post-COVID-19 working environment. 

The altered employment landscape caused by the pandemic doesn’t look like it will change soon, with employees now enjoying the freedom a hybrid working model offers. In some countries, flexible working arrangements are even becoming a matter of legal policy, viewed as an employee rights concern. 

Closer to home, flexible work arrangements are increasingly attractive to U.S. working moms or primary caregivers with children under five, who often struggle to find affordable and quality childcare to free them up for work. At the same time, recent graduates actively look for hybrid work opportunities that offer more flex time to enable a certain level of work-life balance.  

This has led us to ask: “Have elusive dental job seekers switched to temporary employment opportunities that offer them more choice, freedom, and time?”

We decided to find out.

DentalPost 2022 Temping Job Survey Findings

In September 2022, DentalPost gathered temping-related survey responses from 1,213 dentists, 6,851 registered dental hygienists (RDH), 2,378 dental assistants (DA), and 1,926 front office staff members working in corporate and private practices.

Survey questions asked included:

  • Are you temping?
  • Did you temp before COVID-19?
  • How many days per week do you temp?
  • What is your hourly wage?
  • Do you use the services of a temp agency?

Our findings showed the following percentages of respondents working in temp positions in 2022.  

  • Dentists: 4% 
  • RDHs: 14% 
  • DAs: 11%
  • Front office staff: 3%

The majority of respondents were temping between one to two days a week. Of these respondents, 61% dentists, 37% RDHs, 53% dental assistants, and 62% front office staff confirmed having not temped before the pandemic. 

2022 and 2020 Dental Job Temp Comparisons

Compared to 2020 data collected from 566 dentists, 4,833 RDHs, 2,565 DAs, and 2,100 front office workers, 2022 survey findings show fewer RDHs and dental front office workers are temping in 2022 than in 2020. 

Dental assistants were the only respondent group with a minor uptick in temping numbers. DA temps increased from 10% to 11% between 2020 and 2022. The most significant decrease was seen in dental front office staff, dropping from 11% to 3% of respondents answering “Yes” to temping in 2022. 

While most temping figures have not grown since 2020, the average hourly wages of RDH and DA temps are higher. 

Full-time hourly wages for RDHs increased from $40.28 to $47.61 per hour between 2020 and 2022, while average wages increased from $22 to $23.87 per hour for dental assistants. Temp wages for front office staff have not changed, which is potentially why temp worker numbers have dropped among this group since 2020.

DentalPost’s survey statistics (above) indicate that (despite what the temp agencies are saying), temping is not the “new normal” among dental professionals or job seekers in 2022. It’s also not why permanent dental job posts aren’t being filled. 

Dig Deeper With DentalPost

DentalPost’s FULL 2023 Salary Survey Report will be available in January 2023. Keep an eye out for our updated insights into dental professionals’ salaries, work hours, workplace conditions, satisfaction levels, and more!

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