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Work it! Staffing assistance for dental hygienists

June 6, 2023
What's the difference between a staffing agency and a staffing platform? Which one is right for you when you're looking for that perfect position?

It’s a great time to be a dental hygienist! The current job market and high demand for hygienists have positioned us in a professional-centered job market. This increased demand has resulted in the emergence of various dental staffing agencies and platforms that enable dental pros to access employment opportunities with ease. 

With an abundance of options, it can take time to navigate and make informed decisions. Learn about the most-used dental staffing agencies and platforms to assist you in your job search.

Staffing agency vs. staffing platform 

This review evaluated various criteria, including payment classification, benefits, locations, and safeguards. The most significant difference was a company's classification as either a staffing agency or a staffing platform. 

A staffing agency helps companies find suitable candidates for their job vacancies. Agencies are intermediaries between job seekers and companies and provide temporary, part-time, or full-time job opportunities. When the staffing agency finds a suitable candidate, they refer them to the dental office, where the final hiring decision is made. In exchange for their services, staffing agencies typically receive a fee from the dental office. 

The advantages of using an agency are that they frequently offer benefits, offer W2 classification, and hire dental professionals as employees. Agencies also have some disadvantages, such as not giving dental professionals control of their hourly rates, constraining them with contracts, charging permanent job placement fees, and not releasing the name of a dental office where someone will be placed until they agree to take the job.

A staffing platform is an online marketplace that connects job seekers with potential employers. Unlike traditional staffing agencies, staffing platforms use technology to match job seekers with job opportunities. Platforms allow job seekers to create online profiles highlighting their work experience, education, and skills. 

Examples of staffing platforms include Upwork, Indeed, and LinkedIn. While these platforms are great, they’re not dental-specific. Luckily, there are now staffing platforms designed especially for dental professionals. These platforms allow dental pros to set their rates, review dental offices, and not be bound to contracts or permanent placement fees. 

A disadvantage of staffing platforms is the lack of benefits. Because the staffing platform is only a connector, not the hygienist’s employer, they’re usually not equipped to provide benefits. Professionals must decide if they would rather have the freedom of not being an employee or enjoy the benefits that come with full-time employment. 

It’s important to note that my descriptions here are general. As shown in the table (click below), companies differ, and not all fully adhere to these descriptions. For instance, Kwikly, although a staffing agency, allows dental professionals to see the dental office name before booking.

Meanwhile, TempMee, a staffing platform, and Dynamic Dental Staffing, a staffing agency, provide safeguards for last-minute cancellations, as do many other companies. KAD Dental and Cloud Dentistry also offer nonclinical opportunities for dental hygienists who want to expand outside clinical practice. 

Click here for a comprehensive table comparison of criteria for staffing agencies and platforms

What was reviewed 

This comprehensive review examines various categories, including job opportunities, employment classification, benefits, rate determination, safeguards, fees, and ambassador programs. 

Benefits: The benefits provided by staffing agencies range from scrub allowance and paid time off to health insurance. However, full-time work is typically required for benefits such as insurance and 401(k)s. Staffing platforms usually do not offer benefits as they are not employers, but some offer perks such as free continuing education courses and occasional rewards like gift cards for completing shifts. 

Locations: Although companies provided their current market locations, many are actively expanding. They may have even recently expanded into your area. Therefore, if you find a platform or agency you're interested in but your location is not listed as one of their active markets, it’s still worth checking out. 

Safeguards: Most agencies and platforms offer safeguards when someone secures work through them. This means you’re guaranteed compensation for a job booking made through the agency or platform. Additionally, if a dental office cancels at the last minute, you’ll typically be compensated at least a portion of the lost compensation. 

Application: This is where many of the staffing platforms differ. Standard features of staffing platform apps include job listing, shift hours, break time, calendar settings, and profile capabilities. Meanwhile, some platforms allow blocking and favoring dental offices, while others let you know the length of time for each patient appointment. 

Compensation: How will you be paid? Every company varies, with some allowing dental professionals to set their hourly rates. Others set the hourly rate for the professional, and still others provide a combination of both. One company allows dental offices to establish an hourly rate for the shift but lets the dental hygienist submit one counteroffer. 

Ambassador programs: Many companies offer ambassador programs where dental professionals can receive affiliate links to share with other professionals and offices. Compensation for these programs varies among companies, with some offering compensation based on referrals and others after someone has completed a shift with the company. 

My favorite thing about these companies is that they’re all looking out for dental professionals and trying to improve their services to better serve our communities. Nothing in dentistry is one-size-fits-all, and I hope this article helps you make an informed decision for you and your career. Happy job hunting!

Author’s note: Dental staffing agencies and platforms reviewed here were selected by RDH magazine, not the author, and were based on company willingness to participate.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the June 2023 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.