More support from bosses, better products, and flexible scheduling also top list in HuFriedyGroup survey of dental professionals.
In 2021, the dental industry was still hurtling through some major changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffing issues became evident as dental hygienists found value in job changes and increased flexibility. The industry now is in a vastly different state than it was 2 years ago. HuFriedyGroup conducted a survey of more than 900 dental professionals—approximately 92% of the respondents were dental hygienists— to get a better idea of what they want from their practices.
The survey asked a variety of questions ranging from whether a participant was pleased with the state of their practice to what products are necessary for practice and hygienist success. The survey asked if participants had changed career paths because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the approximately 17% who answered yes, optional, open-ended responses affirmed that most career changes were due to reduced hours, lack of patients, and better opportunities at other offices. This aligns with industry trends.
Survey participants listed factors that were important to them on a ranked scale. No. 1 was higher pay. Coming in next was better benefits. Finally, the third most-important factor for hygienists and other dental professionals was flexible scheduling.
Participants were also queried about their practice’s equipment. When asked if they thought their practices provided the best technology to equip them to do their job, 31% of participants answered “No.” Following up, the survey asked what products or improvements could be made. Among the most common answers were “new instruments” and “new instruments yearly.” Other popular answers included new equipment, intraoral scanners, and newer x-ray technology. Participants want new instruments, as some practices have not replaced instruments in years. Some hygienists even said they had to beg to get new instruments regularly. Dental technology keeps advancing, but with nearly one-third of hygienists saying their practices do not provide the technology they need to do their jobs, it may be worth creating a program to regularly review and update the practice's technology.
When asked if these same practices had the materials necessary for practice success, 31% of participants answered “No.” Expanded answers painted a similar picture, mentioning increased ultrasonic scaling capabilities. Results indicate that a practice may have a stronger draw for staff if they keep up with purchasing trends. Hygienists and other dental professionals also demonstrate in their answers that frequent consultation with them on the quality of the instrumentation available is important in staff retention.
The next question posed was whether hygienists and other survey participants felt they were adequately supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE). On a positive note, 89% of participants answered “Yes.” However, there were still plenty of suggestions when participants were prompted to answer what PPE they wished their practice had available. More N95 masks were a popular answer, as well as face shields and loupes that fit a variety of different-sized heads. Although some said that a lack of PPE was the office manager’s or dentist’s responsibility, others noted that it was more difficult to order certain PPE since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Some dental hygienists said they had to buy their own PPE outside of the practice, as the practice owner did not provide it for them.
What can be gleaned from these data is the importance of communication between hygienist, front office, and dentist. When asked what dental staff would change about their boss, a majority answered that they wished they would communicate with staff more, and they would like more recognition for good deeds done well.
From new products to a more communicative atmosphere, understanding these data could be a valuable step in trying to build a better culture in the practice.
To dive deeper into the survey results, visit HuFriedyGroup's blog post here.