More dental practices, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and other sites of healthcare employment are increasingly embracing the use of locum tenens dentists across the United States. Like many physician specialties, the supply of dentists is failing to keep pace with demand for services.
In "The Growing Use of Locum Tenens Dentists," the Staff Care thought leaders shed some light on this increasing utilization of locum tenens dentists, and what it means for America's practices and dental practitioners.
The most salient point of the article is the increasing lack of qualified lack of dentists in rural areas. "There is a longstanding maldistribution of dentists in the U.S., just as there is a longstanding maldistribution of physicians," the authors note. "This has led to shortages in rural and inner city communities."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it will take close to 7,200 dental practitioners to achieve the minimum standard for certain rural populations in the years to come, the authors add — and that's assuming that the practitioners could be distributed to the communities where they're needed).
Furthermore, today's locum dentists "are frequently used in rural areas, particularly by FQHCs, and in urban areas." Facilities in this area generally use locum dentists "to provide services while they seek to recruit permanent dentists," the authors note. "Since recruiting dentists and other clinicians to rural areas and inner city areas can be challenging, some FQHCs have become reliant on locum tenens dentists to work assignments that can last for months or even over a year."
Similarly, private dental practices are increasingly using locum dentists "to fill in during maternity leave, vacations, illness or military deployment," our authors note, as well as to "maintain services from the time they have recruited a new graduate to the time the graduate is licensed and is able to practice."
Other reasons — such as a means to secure a new associate through the “temp-to-perm” process or a means to rotate specialty areas like endodontics or periodontics over a limited period of time — are explored in detail. The authors also describe precisely:
- What regions of the U.S are most underrepresented by current dentist staffing levels;
- What locations have the most dental schools;
- A locums cost-versus-benefit formula;
- How billing for locum dentists works; and
- Additional information reflecting supply and demand trends in dentistry.
For any facility seeking to staff dental professionals, our locum dental staffing white paper is a must-read; you can download a complimentary copy here.
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Staff Care Locums Survey: More Dentists Needed!
The white paper echoes a trend pointed out in the Staff Care 2017 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, where our locums staffing thought leaders describe a growing need for locum dentists across the country.
"Locum tenens has been an established tradition in medicine for many years but is still a relatively new concept in dentistry," the authors wrote. "However, the number of dental schools and dental school graduates in the U.S. has remained fixed in recent years. Total annual dental school graduates peaked at 5,750 in 1982, then declined for 16 consecutive years. It is essentially flat at 4,500 per year today. Meanwhile, tens of millions of people have been added to the population.
"The dental workforce, now comprised of some 199,000 dentists, is strained in many places, leading to the increased use of locum tenens practitioners. Several years ago, Staff Care received virtually no requests for locum tenens dentists. Today, the firm receives thousands of such requests from state-supported and private dental practices nationwide, with dentistry accounting for 5% of temporary days requested in 2016."
If you represent a healthcare facility and you're looking to explore locum dental staffing options, we encourage you to put our team's expertise to use! Contact Staff Care today to discover how we can help, or submit a staffing request here.
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