The 2022 ODA House of Delegates passed a resolution to develop and implement a dental staff recruitment campaign to help member dentists meet their staffing needs.

The resolution was submitted by the ODA Workforce Working Group, which was established by the Dental Education and Licensure Committee in 2021 to address the shortage numbers of hygienists, assistants, EFDAs and front office personnel.

The Workforce Working Group met 15 times over the past year and held a forum with the state’s dental hygiene program directors to develop both policy and program recommendations to assist ODA member dentists in meeting their staffing requirements.

The working group explored avenues including legislative changes; strategies to increase interest in entering into careers in dentistry, specifically dental assisting and dental hygiene; dental staff education and training issues such as expanding training and degree programs; and educating dentists on expanding the utilization of existing staff.

The resolution aims to help ODA member dentists meet their staffing needs by promoting career path opportunities to the public, encouraging people to enter the dental field, and growing the number of applicants to Ohio’s dental assisting and hygiene programs.

Proposed initiatives include:

  • Developing a webpage that includes resources about careers in dentistry, including descriptions of dental office positions, articles of interest for dental team members, American Dental Association resources related to careers in dentistry, and contact information for dental assisting and dental hygiene education programs in Ohio.
  • Sharing information and weblinks that ODA members can use in their offices to train existing staff and recruit individuals to enter a career in dentistry.
  • Creating a digital advertising campaign, including the ODA’s ONN radio public service campaign, to promote careers in dental assisting, dental hygiene and related fields.

In addition to these efforts, the ODA signed onto two letters to the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The first letter requests the removal of both the faculty to student ratio for clinical settings and the requirement that faculty members who teach and supervise in clinical settings must possess a baccalaureate or higher degree from the Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs. The second requests the removal of both the faculty to student ratio for clinical settings and the requirement that the program administrator must possess a baccalaureate degree or higher from the Accreditation Standards for Dental Assisting Education Programs. By removing faculty to student ratio and baccalaureate requirements from the standard, dental hygiene and dental assisting programs could set their own faculty to student ratios and qualifications for program administrators that make sense for each specific program.

The letters state that removing these requirements will bring program requirements in line with dental education, allow programs to increase capacity while possibly decreasing per capita operational expenses, and open clinical instruction opportunities to a broader, more diverse group of instructors.

The ODA also supported an amendment to the Ohio Dental Practice Act creating a third pathway to becoming a certified dental assistant in Ohio by allowing dental assistants to secure certification through American Medical Technologists. Up until recently, the only avenues for a dental assistant to get certified in Ohio were through the Dental Assisting National Board or the Commission on Ohio Dental Assistant Certification (CODAC).

ODA representatives also reached out to the leadership of the CODAC to offer assistance to them in resuming administration of the CODAC exam. ODA representatives have also participated in meetings with the Ohio Department of Education’s Industry Recognized Credential Review Committee to provide dentistry’s input on dental assisting vocational issues.

ODA President Dr. Lori Fitzgerald, a general dentist from Canfield, noted that “the ODA understands that dentists are struggling to find staff so we are pursuing a multi-pronged approach to increasing the number of dental hygienists, dental assistants and other dental office personnel in Ohio.”

Addressing the dental staffing shortage will continue to be a priority of the ODA in 2023. Watch the “ODA Today” for updates on how the ODA is working to help member dentists meet their staffing needs.