by Mark Hartley
In all honesty, I initially spent most of my review of the salary survey results trying to see if you’re happy or not, as well as whether the aches and pains of the national economy has had any impact on you.
Business, though, looks pretty good for most of you. You’re making a good living with the rest of the staff. I still wondered about a couple of things:
- Are half of you really having babies? I know the flexibility of a dental hygiene career is widely admired. But the sheer numbers of part-time employees always startles me when I look over the results of an RDH salary survey. You don’t have to answer the question; I know what the score is (in too many regions, full-time jobs are scarce).
- Is it really necessary to put two or three unemployed hygienists on every street corner in Michigan and Wisconsin? Way too many dental hygiene schools up there.
- But after awhile, my emotions about what I’m seeing drift to sadness. We asked for comments about how you felt about salary and benefit trends in the profession. Some of you were very detailed in describing, for example, how uniform allowances work in your offices. Some of the other comments, though, slow me down in any sort of praise for what a wonderful occupation dentistry is.
From West Virginia: “I have been a hygienist for 34 years ... I don’t think, though, I would pick hygiene if I had to do it all over again.”
From Tennessee: “Our handshake was 50 percent of cleanings ... We were lied to by a greedy dentist not keeping his word of honor.”
From Ohio: “I am bringing in sufficient money to cover a raise, but our general overhead is so high my excess goes to support that.”
From New Jersey: “There are no set standards .... Once in awhile my boss will give some extra cash.”
From Mississippi: “I do not receive paid holidays or paid vacations. I also pay for my uniforms ... We have essentially zero turnover as it is the best office in town to work for. We receive employment applications weekly.”
From Michigan: “Our last raise was four years ago. Our practice has raised fees four times since our last raise. Our 401k has been taken from us also.”
From Georgia: “After no raise in 3 1/2 years, I asked for and received a raise. But within a few months, he began having the receptionists book extra patients ... Then he cut the entire staff’s vacation time. I regret asking for a raise.”
From Florida: “I recently attended bartending school and plan on totally retiring from hygiene.”
Yeah, I know. Break out the violins and sing a sad song. Times are tough, and life is not fair. But I think these comments remind me of a phone call I got a few weeks ago. A long-distance friend wanted to know if there were any dental hygiene jobs in the area where I live.
I don’t really pay that much attention to the classifieds. So I told my pal I would ask someone who would knew. I sauntered over there thinking about what a good deed I was doing and popped the question.
As the words left my mouth, I thought to myself: I’m an idiot. Go home. Get the hammer from the garage. Give yourself a few whacks on the head with it.
I knew the answer to the question, have known it for years.
There are good jobs where I live. You just have to file an application with a great office and then wait for years. In the meantime, you work for a mediocre office or at one of the jobs briefly described above. (You can read all of the comments in their entirety on the Web site.)
I don’t know why dentists get all indignant when I describe their practices as being like Mom-and-Pop grocery stores. You are what you are, and you know who you are.