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Kristen Mott is the associate editor for Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics.
Lack of recognition and no opportunity for advancement were cited as major concerns.
Roughly 48 percent of dental hygienists don’t feel that they’re adequately compensated for the work they perform, according to a new survey conducted by InCrowd, a market research company that provides real-time market intelligence to the life science and healthcare industries.
Two hundred and twenty-five U.S. female dental hygienists participated in the survey. The average age of the hygienists was 52 years old and the average number of years in practice was 26.
When asked an open-ended question about adequate compensation, one hygienist responded, “The dental field is so focused on titles that it doesn’t truly respect hygienists as much as we should be respected for the work, knowledge and experience we bring to our patients. … The payment should reflect our contribution. The payment continues to go down every year. It isn’t encouraging for recent graduates, seasoned hygienists and the field in general.”
Another hygienist commented, “No benefits, no opportunity for advancement, always being asked to do more in less time and without an increase in compensation.”
The survey also revealed that 75 percent of the hygienists surveyed had never received a promotion during their career, and 36 percent had never received recognition for their work.
“I sometimes feel frustrated with the stagnant nature of my job,” one hygienist responded.
“Some doctors are selfish with their money,” said another. “I celebrated 25 years with one practice and 15 with the other and didn’t receive any acknowledgement.”
Fifty-two percent of the hygienists surveyed said they’ve been encouraged to attend an event, talk, or conference for professional development. However, hygienists are not always compensated for doing this.
“We are always encouraged to do continuing education but are not compensated for it,” one hygienist responded. “As an office, we do training together for practice development. I received a pay increase two years ago and an increase in the incentive program. At this time, there is no possibility or a promotion in the dental hygiene area.”
Twenty-seven percent of the hygienists surveyed said they had received a pay increase within the last two years, and 34 percent responded that they had received some sort of recognition for their work. Several hygienists also noted that their offices provide generous Christmas bonuses that are not performance-based, along with paid staff meals and birthday gifts.
The survey also asked hygienists whether they had ever experienced sexual or verbal harassment by colleagues and/or patients at the office. About 60 percent responded that they had never experienced harassment, while 15.56 percent said they had been harassed by patients and 13.78 percent had been harassed by both patients and colleagues.
“InCrowd ran the survey because we had heard in previous research from physicians and nurses about the harassment they had experienced in the workplace and thought that the environment for dental hygienists had not yet been delved into by other research organizations,” says Danielle Schroth, InCrowd’s director of crowd development.
“We also asked about their feelings regarding their compensation because when we asked other healthcare professionals their feelings on the matter, many were neutral to negative on what they were compensated for their work," Schroth continues. "Given many HCPs reporting hostile work environments with either verbal, sexual, or physical harassment, it seemed natural to inquire, given those hurdles, what hygienists felt about how they were compensated in relation to the environment they described.”