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How Dental Service Organizations Are Addressing the Dental Staffing Crisis

February 12, 2024

The dental industry is experiencing a significant staffing crisis, exacerbated by various factors including demographic shifts, changing workforce preferences, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) have emerged as key players in managing this crisis, employing innovative strategies to adapt to the evolving landscape of dental care delivery. In a recent Becker’s Hospital Review webinar, executives from leading DSOs shed light on how they are navigating these challenges and reshaping the dental workforce paradigm. Below are some of the top approaches they're taking to address their workforce challenges.

Embracing More Flexible Work Arrangements 

One notable strategy embraced by DSOs is the adoption of flexible work arrangements. Recognizing the changing preferences of dental professionals, DSOs are becoming more open to offering flexible schedules, including one-day-per-week temporary work options. This flexibility not only provides staff with opportunities to evaluate different practice settings but also enables DSOs to tap into a wider pool of talent.

Expecting Dentists to Perform Hygiene Duties

What would have been unheard of just a few years ago is becoming fairly standard. With a shortage of hygiene staff, DSOs are asking dentists to perform hygiene duties in addition to their other responsibilities. By setting clear expectations during the hiring process, DSOs are effectively addressing staffing gaps while ensuring continuity of care for patients.

Creating On-the-Job Training Programs

DSOs are also investing in on-the-job training programs to upskill individuals from non-traditional backgrounds, such as the retail and restaurant industries. By providing comprehensive training and support, DSOs are not only addressing immediate staffing needs but also creating pathways for career advancement within the dental field.

Partnering With Hygiene / Dental Schools

Another proactive approach involves forging partnerships with dental schools and training institutions. By establishing strong relationships with these institutions, DSOs can access a pipeline of fresh talent, including recent graduates eager to launch their careers in dentistry. This collaborative effort not only benefits DSOs by ensuring a steady supply of skilled professionals but also supports the growth and development of the next generation of dental professionals.

Monitoring Employee Feedback and Engagement

While these strategies are instrumental in addressing the staffing crisis, it's crucial for DSOs to prioritize employee feedback and engagement. Understanding the challenges and concerns of frontline staff is essential for fostering a positive work environment and driving organizational success. This is where solutions like Swell's Employee Experience Management come into play.

Swell's innovative platform provides DSOs with a simple and automated way to gather valuable feedback from employees, enabling them to identify areas for improvement and implement targeted interventions. By leveraging real-time insights, DSOs can proactively address issues that impact clinic operations, enhance employee satisfaction, and ultimately improve patient care.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, DSOs play a pivotal role in navigating the dental staffing crisis through innovative workforce strategies and proactive engagement with employees. By embracing flexibility, investing in training and education, and leveraging technology-driven solutions, DSOs can effectively address staffing challenges and ensure the delivery of high-quality dental care to patients.

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