In reply to Dr. Neal Buss who disputes the worth of hygienists [RDH, Dec. 1996], this is the typical asinine attitude so prevalent among dentists today.
These "up-front" rewards, exactly what are they? Salary? Could someone please inform his highness that when one works, one is remunerated.
Consider his allegation we take "no risks." We risk contracting infectious disease with every patient. Most of the cross-contamination problems I have seen in offices emanate from the dentist not washing or wearing gloves from patient to patient. We risk losing our license because of dentists who practice sub-standard care and poor operative techniques (rampant). We risk litigation from patients who are physically and mentally abused by the dentist himself.
From a monetary standpoint, the 65 percent overhead Dr. Buss speaks of includes personal credit card debts, home maid service, vacations, luxury cars - not to mention cash taken under the table.
Now, on the production front (hygiene), my direct production averages $165,000 yearly. (This practice is at least 40 percent managed care). Indirect production is immeasurable. My salary is $34,000 yearly. If you go by the 33 percent rule base (this is from a dental journal), I am underpaid by $20,000. But, let`s be fair. Taking into consideration my benefits, the total financial outlay per day for me (employee overhead) is $300 per day. This is $72,000 a year. Subtract this figure from my direct production of $165,000, and the dentist ends up with a tidy profit of $93,000. Since we employ two hygienists, this figure doubled is $186,000. Not a bad return on his investment! No wonder the dental profession is against independent practice.
Isn`t it time for this "noblesse oblige" philosophy to end?
Oh, after 20 years in this profession, my salary has gone from $80 a day to $160 a day. I completed four years of college in three and then two years of dental school. I do not knew the cost, as my father paid the tuition. Hence, I have no financial ax to grind.
Kathryn R. Wineski, RDH