A reality check in Ohio ... and a reality check for you as well

May 23, 2012

By Kevin Henry
Editor, Dental Assisting Digest

Google alerts are amazing things. I don't know if you have discovered them yet or not, but if you haven't, I highly recommend you go into Google and sign up for the free service. It's amazing the information you see.

One of my Google alerts is set for the term "dental assistant." One of the articles that recently showed up in my inbox was from The Daily News in Bowling Green, Ohio. The article (which you can read in its entirety by clicking here) talked about a "Reality Fair" held at a local middle school where students were, as the paper says...

Eighth-graders are given scenarios – some are single parents, some are married, some have good-paying jobs while others are struggling with low income.

Groups of students then venture to the school gymnasium, where volunteers set up booths to “sell” them housing, vehicles, insurance, utilities, child care, entertainment and other needs. The students are given a monthly and annual income, and they must budget their finances and purchase necessary items.

Well, wouldn't you know it ... one of the students the articles focuses upon is a 14-year-old girl who gets to be ... yep, you guessed it ... a dental assistant. Here's the lead paragraph of the article.

Serenity Gray is only 14 years old, but she knows what it’s like to barely be able to afford rent. For about an hour Thursday, Serenity was a dental assistant bringing home $1,290 a month.

Ouch, but maybe not as painful as the end of the article...

As a pretend dental assistant, Serenity, of Bowling Green, could barely afford utilities and insurance. She had to buy the cheapest car she could find and rent a small apartment.

And she didn’t even have children. The exercise was a wake-up call, Serenity said.

“I need to get my head into education,” she said.

Sadly, the payscale has often been at the forefront of many dental assistants' reasons to leave the profession. I've heard first-hand dental assistants tell me they're going into other professions (in and out of dentistry) in order to make more money. It's understandable ... but sad.

In this month's Dental Assisting Digest, I'm giving you the latest hourly and annual salary figures from around the nation. You can click here to see them. It's a great way for you to get a sneak peek into the pocketbooks of your colleagues and compare your paycheck to theirs.

If you think it's time for you to ask for a raise, click here to read some solid (as always) advice from Linda Miles.

We'll be using this salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of our annual "Best and worst states to be a dental assistant" list. Look for that in the next issue of DAD. And yes, I still need you to help me compile the list by taking this short survey. Thanks in advance for your help.

In the meantime, check out those salary numbers and enjoy the start of summer.

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