What New Dentists Need to Know About Locum Dentistry

Dentists remain in high demand, and locum tenens dentistry offers great opportunities for new dentists to explore the country and try different work settings before settling in one location. In fact, the current job market is ripe with options.

“We are back into recovery mode after COVID-19,” said Nicole Richardson, director of recruiting at Staff Care
 , a leading locum tenens staffing agency. “The market is coming back very quickly. There has been pent-up demand.” 

Many people put off dental visits during the pandemic, but now that they are vaccinated, they feel safer seeking such care and are rushing to the dentist, she said.

Supply and demand leading to plentiful locum dentistry jobs

More than 201,000 dentists were practicing in the United States in 2020, which translates to about 61 dentists per 100,000 population, according to the American Dental Association. But that is not enough to provide optimal coverage and patient access. The Health Resources and Services Administration reports a current national shortage of 10,887 dentists.    

“There is a much higher need than there are dentists,” Richardson said

In addition to open permanent positions, there is a robust number of
assignments for locum tenens dentists across the country.  

How new dentists can benefit from locum tenens jobs

Think it would be fun to live in a rural community for a while, or are you craving a stay in a metropolitan area? Locum dentistry lets you try them both. If you love a certain setting, you can often extend your contract and stay on. If it is not a great fit, you can work with your recruiter to find another location and practice setting.  

While many locum tenens dentists travel around the country, trying out different locales and exploring the sights, some want to earn extra money while working a full-time or part-time locum dentistry job closer to home.

Working as a locum tenens dentist can bring in extra money for new dentists to pay off student debts, which the
American Dental Association reports  are more than $200,000 on average. 

Some dentists enjoy the locum tenens lifestyle and float from one assignment to the next for months, or even years. In addition to the flexibility and travel benefits, locum tenens dentists do not need to worry about running a business, hiring staff or billing hassles. Locum tenens can also allow dentists to work around their volunteer mission work.

New dentists also find locum dentistry a learning opportunity, to determine which setting they like best or explore different ways to practice their craft, Richardson said.

“You have varying philosophies of practice,” she pointed out. “A locum tenens dentist will see that.” She added that most clients are open to accepting new graduate dentists.

Where locum dentists can work

Locum dentistry positions may be in a private practice, to cover a maternity leave or other leave of absence. Others assignments are meant to fill a vacancy while the practice looks to hire a full-time dentist. If the temporary position is a good fit for both parties, the locum dentist may be considered for that permanent position.  

Corporate dental practices,
community health centers and government facilities also need locum tenens dentists. In a corporate practice, the new dentist might find a good fit with the work, but not like the location and try another geographic area within the corporate practice.  

“People chose locums because they have more flexibility to pick and choose what opportunities they want to explore,” Richardson said. “Some people like to work for three months and then take some time off. It’s a flexibility to pick and choose how much they want to work.”

Thinking about a locum tenens dentist job?

More than 100 locum tenens dentist jobs are currently available through Staff Care, which receives thousands of staffing requests  for locum tenens dentists annually. Most assignments are general dentistry positions, but pediatric assignments and specialty positions are sometimes available. Some assignments are full-time, while others are one or two days per week or a solid week to cover a vacation. 

The hiring practice sets the pay rates for locum dentists, and the amount depends on the local market. Liability insurance is typically covered and the locum tenens dentist receives reimbursement for lodging and mileage
 . Some locum tenens dentists travel alone, while others travel with their pets or a friend or family member.

The team at Staff Care will help a dentist secure a license in the state where opportunities are available. The company offers comprehensive licensure services to broaden a dentist’s ability to provide dental care to patients across the nation.

“If dentists want a locum tenens
 job, they can have one,” Richardson said. “The number of opportunities are abundant.”  

The Many Options Available for Locum Tenens Dentists 
The States Most in Need of Dentists 

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