Hygienists strongly believe there are too many hygiene schools, too few jobs

Eighty percent of dental hygienists believe there has been an increase of dental hygiene schools in their area since 2007, creating a surplus of dental hygienists, and making it “difficult” to find employment, according to an RDH eVillage survey.

The year 2007 was when the current recession began, leading to the development of new dental hygiene schools to foster employment opportunities. According to the survey, 79% believe the introduction of dental hygiene schools has created a “larger surplus of dental hygienists seeking employment.”

A Tennessee hygienist reported, “I don't understand how certain sources still list dental hygiene as one of the top 10 best employment options of the future. There are so many schools in our area flooding the market that not only are there no jobs to be had, but the rate of pay has decreased significantly in the last five years.”

Eighty-one percent said the necessity of finding another job in their area would be “difficult.” Only 2% said it would be “easy.” A third option to the question, “Challenging to find an ideal practice, but I could find employment within the desired time frame,” was chosen by 17% of the respondents.

“I have worked for 33 years as a dental hygienist in this area,” a Pennsylvania hygienist wrote. “I am sickened by the thought of possibly losing my job of 27 years if our office production does not improve. Jobs in this area are very difficult to find, especially full-time. As much as I love my job, I am worried about the future and the lack of options I have.”

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Other articles related to RDH eVillage surveys in 2013

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Links to Other 2013 Salary Survey Articles

Dental Hygiene Salary Survey, part 1: Reduced hours? Maybe not

Regardless of generation, dental hygienists agree about job market

Hygienists strongly believe there are too many hygiene schools, too few jobs

Some final thoughts about the fairness of pay raises awarded to dental hygienists

Job benefits survey, part 4: The 'duh' factor

Pay raises in dental hygiene: A national overview

2013 Dental Hygienist Job Benefits Survey - Part 3

Job benefits for dental hygienists: Part 2

Survey: Dental hygienists scramble for health insurance

The survey’s questions appeared in the Aug. 9, 2013, issue of RDH eVillage, and 564 dental hygienists participated. Upcoming articles will feature additional demographic analysis of the data, so dental hygienists are encouraged to participate by clicking here.

From a national perspective, though, dental hygienists struggle with the job market. Thirty-five percent said they were “unable to find employment for the desired number of days that I want to work,” and 34% who work in multiple offices indicated that they would prefer to work in just one practice setting.

The statistics in the preceding paragraph, of course, are dependent upon the ability of dental practices to provide desired employment opportunities. The survey asked dental hygienists to rate the financial health of the practices that employ them:

  • 46% selected, “Profitable, but the recession influenced practice growth at least mildly.”
  • 26% selected, “Profitable, but the recession has strained the ability to generate revenue.”
  • 21% selected, “Very profitable, steady revenue gains even during the recession.”
  • 4% selected, “Unprofitable for other reasons.”
  • 3% selected, “Unprofitable due to the long-term impact of the recession.”

Forty-one percent “usually agree” with practice owners about the “valid” factors influencing the success of the practice. The survey also indicated that dental practices “never discuss the financial status of the business,” with 40% of the dental hygienists participating in the survey.

However, only 14% said the addition of dental hygiene schools since 2007 has not created a surplus of dental hygienists (7% were uncertain). Does the job market prompt thoughts of career changes among the 79% feeling the pinch of too few available jobs? While 29% said they “never” contemplate a career change, 33% think about it “sometimes,” and 28% think about it “frequently.”

“The government stats on dental hygiene are not accurate,” a Texas dental hygienist said. “They continue to open new dental hygiene schools where there are many hygienists looking for employment. Given the lack of career growth, I'm not sure I would choose a dental hygiene career again.”

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