DSOs are ramping up support for dental staff

Several DSOs have started to offer new growth opportunities to their affiliated dental staff, which could prove crucial to the retainment and recruitment of talent. 

Four DSOs have established opportunities for their dental staff to acquire new skills, gain additional educational opportunities and become leaders in their field.

Tampa, Fla.-based DSO Today's Dental Network said May 3 it offered a two-day certified training on 3Shape's newest scanner, Trios4, to doctors and staff in its network for use with restorative dentistry and edentulous patients. 

In April, New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Premier Care Dental Management launched a scholarship program for its employees and their family members, which will provide each recipient with up to $2,500 to be used toward tuition for an accredited program.

"Our organization recognizes the importance of education and continually looks for ways to support our employees and their family members," Scott Asnis, DDS, Premier's founder and CEO said at the time of the announcement. "We are happy to support hard-working employees and their family members with funding to help access education."

Chicago-based Aspen Dental recently announced two initiatives to support dentists and dental assistants. The DSO committed to training 700 dentists in implant procedures this year as part of its ongoing training program. The DSO has already trained more than 1,400 dentists on dental implant services since December 2020.

Additionally, Aspen Dental is partnering with the Dental Assisting National Board and its affiliate organization, the Dale Foundation, to invest in radiography training and credentials for dental assistants in its network. The training will help dentists meet requirements needed in most states to perform radiology procedures.

"Dental assistants are integral members of the oral healthcare team," said Laura Skarnulis, CEO of DANB. "They enhance the productivity of the practice by partnering with their doctors to manage the busy patient workflow, and their chairside interactions often positively impact the patients' experience and treatment plan acceptance. That's why we're so excited to see Aspen Dental's commitment to ensuring these essential team members have up-to-date training and knowledge to effectively perform their central duties."

Most recently, Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Peak Dental Services launched a program for its dental hygienists to become owners. The DSO said the new ownership packages are a way to honor the importance of its hygienists by giving them the opportunity to expand their financial goals within the organization.

Support for staff is becoming increasingly important in the dental industry as practices and DSOs recruit workers. Dental assistants and hygienists have continued to be the most recruited for roles nationwide. 

A March poll from the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute found that 33.1 percent of practices were recruiting dental hygienists, while 37.6 percent were recruiting dental assistants. The majority of recruiting practices said they have found the process to be very challenging or extremely challenging. Recent data also showed that dental employment has remained stagnant even as the U.S. came out of the peak of the omicron surge. Dental offices lost 1,500 jobs from February to March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The exodus was largely driven by dentists and dental hygienists, who stated their reasons for leaving as workplace safety concerns, the inability to find sufficient childcare and feeling underpaid.

Several dentists and industry executives echoed these sentiments to Becker's, adding that many feel underappreciated. 

"There are a number of hygienists out there that in some ways don't feel as if they are looked at by the practice owners as a contributor to the level that they might like to be looked at," William Simon, DMD, told Becker's. "There are still offices out there where the dentists are not utilizing dental hygienists, or perhaps they don't truly employ them to the extent that they could, in other words, expanding their functions and allowing them to give input into the way that the care is provided. And I think that would go a long way also toward making a dental hygiene career more attractive."

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