Despite increased optimism from dental leaders, there has been increasing concern about the lack of qualified applicants to fill vital positions. More than half of dental practices have seen patient volumes return to pre-pandemic levels. Practices must identify talent to meet growing patient demand. Whether they have the pool to choose from, however, is the question. Could dental temping offer a viable solution?

Some dentists go weeks without applicant submissions, while others see fluctuating application numbers. Recruiting hygienists, assistants, administrative staff, and others is an arduous task for many owner dentists. But first, why are dentists struggling to hire talent? And what can leaders do to address these staffing issues successfully?

COVID Concerns and Operational Issues are Keeping Applicants Away 

According to one poll from the American Dental Association, just under 36% of owner dentists are recruiting dental assistants while 28.8% of them are actively seeking dental hygienists. With over 26% looking for administrative staff and 13% searching for associate dentists, recruitment numbers rose from 2020, indicating dental leaders’ level of interest in filling essential roles. 

However, dental applications aren’t coming in at the rate recruiters hope for, not even close. Compared to pre-pandemic conditions, more than 80% of owner dentists who are actively recruiting have expressed their frustration with recruiting dental assistants and hygienists. Over 66% of owner dentists said hiring hygienists had been a considerable challenge, while just under 60% of dentists had similar problems finding dental assistants. Meanwhile, over 70% of owner dentists found hiring administrative assistants difficult, while more than 50% had difficulty finding dental associates. 

Dentistry is facing growing staffing deficiencies, with challenges varying from state to state. These challenges include: 

  • A lack of available team members 
  • Declining applicant numbers to fill key roles 
  • Discrepancies in salary expectations and wages paid 

Though dental staffing shortages have been a concern before the pandemic era, more employees have used this time to leave the profession entirely or take an extended leave. Many have expressed their concerns about safe practices within the dental industry, while others desire a greater work-life balance.  

Marketing Efforts Have Struggled, Training Issues Persist 

Marketing efforts from dental leaders have yielded mixed results.

Despite consistent advertising and aggressive marketing campaigns, attracting applicants remains difficult. Dental practices have been placing ads to mixed results, with some attracting several candidates and others barely getting a look, with no responses for days at a time. From paid search to creative advertising on job sites to social media ads, none of these methods has brought in the number of applicants owner dentists have hope for. Additionally, applicants have indicated they prefer to work part-time rather than full-time. Furthermore, applicants new to the profession require extensive on-the-job training because they don’t have enough basic skills. The complexities in the new normal make it difficult to provide on-the-job training for new employees. 

It’s been taking longer for aspiring dental workers to break into the dental industry as well.  The educational requirements associated with some positions have made it tricky for new people to get involved. As one dentist explained, hygienists must have a license, meaning it takes several years to graduate qualified ones. Training programs for dental assistants and hygienists have closed because they don’t have enough students to attract. Fewer applicants are available because there aren’t enough trained people applying for critical positions. 

How Can Dental Practices Attract Applicants With Dental Temping?

Practices can optimize their online presence and SEO strategies to garner the attention of more qualified applicants. Applicants and patients alike will be more attracted to a dental practice when their website looks like a winner. More than 75% of people assess a company’s credibility based on its website design. Additionally, the website should include all the practice’s credentials and clarify their requirements for new applicants. 

Transparency is a must to attract the necessary qualifications to fill a position. Practices must include information about the type of insurance benefits it offers so that potential applicants know what they can access when working for the company. Also, for temporary dental staff, practices should highlight certain skill sets like communication, attention to detail, and other traits that will help them quickly adjust when they get hired. 

Furthermore, dental leaders need to be SEO specialists or hire people with solid search engine optimization knowledge. Using search terms that rank practices highly in search engines, particularly terms related to the position, will help. Practices also need to include more automation in their services, including email encryption and other advanced technologies. This way, when a practice welcomes new staff, they can adapt to their surroundings quicker, allowing more experienced staff to focus extensively on other tasks. 

Where Dental Temping Comes in Handy

Dental temping can prove a viable solution

Dental leaders must plan, especially for when the unexpected happens, and this is where dental temping proves its usefulness. Many dental temps like to fill their schedules weeks or months in advance. Through flexible staffing, dental practices can attract temporary dental applicants and eventually hire them to cover for random disruptions. Dental temps will cover a last-minute shift when staff members are sick or have emergencies to tend to. 

Leaders must ensure new staff acclimatize themselves successfully after being welcomed onto their workforce. One way to do this is by assigning an anchor; someone who will show them the ropes, get them familiar with the office and permanent staff and be a source for any queries they may have. Anchors work best when they operate in similar roles to the temporary staff member, such as a dental hygienist to a temporary hygienist. This kind of accommodation helps them settle in early, reducing any worry that they may want to leave and making dental leaders return to the drawing board. 

Dental leaders need to attract quality applicants and connect with the right placement experts to help them identify the right people. Find out how TempStars can help your practice bring in the right people.