The temptation to reduce the entire 2015 RDH eVillage salary survey to the words "same-old same-old" is admittedly strong.

Dec. 24, 2015
Numerous factors concern dental hygienists about a career-long satisfaction with the profession.

Numerous factors concern dental hygienists about a career-long satisfaction with the profession. However, an article about Medicaid reimbursement in California recently caught my eye. The journalist was not focusing on dental hygiene. He was merely quoting a dentist about the absurdities associated with Medicaid reimbursement as a valid reason why dentists are reluctant to treat those patients. The dentist said the reimbursement for a prophy was three to four dollars less than the hourly rate earned by the hygienist providing the treatment.

The hourly rate quoted seemed low to me. So I went back to the data for California and less than 2% earn that specific hourly rate. Most hygienists in California earn about $15 an hour more than what was reported. So, if the Medicaid reimbursement is universal, there's an even bigger loss encountered by dental offices.

Many hygienists recognize that dentists struggle with low reimbursement from third party sources. A raise is not merely a matter of prying the cash loose from the dead dentist's fingers. Many dentists value the role of team members, but how exactly are they supposed to offer a pay raise when the overhead exceeds revenue?

The 2015 salary survey, by the way, can be found online. Quite simply, I would suggest searching for "2015 salary survey" at Most of the survey results were examined for various aspects of wages and benefits projected for the current year (most respondents answered the survey in August or September). I didn't really compare with previous years, and I would like to do so here.

Most common hourly rate reported nationally

2013: $40 an hour

2014: $35 an hour

2015: $35 an hour

Most common projected dental hygiene income for the year

2013: $41,000 to $50,000

2014: $51,000 to $60,000

2015: $51,000 to $60,000

Percentage content with current work schedule

2013: 61%

2014: 62%

2015: 82%

Percentage receiving pay raisewithin previous 12 months

2013: 15%

2014: 25%

2015: 27%

Are you tempted to say "same-old same-old" too? What concerns me the most are some contradictions. First of all, the projected annual incomes are lower than what those glowing job market forecasts state about the dental hygiene profession. Secondly, the "content with work schedules" is based on a workforce that wants to work part-time. Most of the content hygienists do not work full-time. Is it possible that perceptions about dental hygiene being a part-time job will tarnish the overall respect given to the profession? It shouldn't be same-old same-old.

Mark Hartley

[email protected]