5 reasons dental assistants change offices or jobs

person searching for new jobs on a laptop

Like many other job industries, dentistry has seen plenty of turnover in recent years. Dental assistants have been a part of this trend. DANB’s latest Salary and Satisfaction Survey showed that nearly one in five dental assistants has changed offices within the last two years.

Why are some dental assistants on the move to new practices? The DANB survey revealed some answers.

Feeling unappreciated

Dental assistants work exceptionally hard, wearing many different hats to ensure their practices operate smoothly and patients get the best care. Many dentists make a point to let dental assistants know that they’re valued and their contributions are vital. However, this isn’t always the case.

Lack of appreciation is the most common reason dental assistants have sought new opportunities. Among dental assistants who’ve changed jobs in the last two years, 62% said feeling unappreciated played a role in their decision.

“My belief is if you aren’t respected and valued for what you do, find a new team,” says Doreen, CDA.

“That’s one thing about dental assistants: If we’re happy and appreciated, we will bend over backwards, because most of us really do love the job,” says another certificant.

Receiving better pay elsewhere

Dental assistants are in high demand due to ongoing staffing shortages. A survey by the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute showed that 35.8% of dentists were looking to hire dental assistants as of November 2022. Many dental assistants are taking this opportunity to increase their earnings, with 60% of those who’ve changed jobs in the last two years citing better pay as a factor.

“Know your worth and value,” says Brandy, CDA. “We are a vital part of a machine that can’t function without us.”

Seeking better work-life balance

Because of staffing shortages, some dental assistants are working beyond normal hours, whether that’s working through their lunch break, staying late, or answering work-related text messages and calls outside the office. This can cause stress and burnout. If long hours are negatively impacting your work-life balance, you may consider making a switch to a dental office with more reasonable expectations for your work schedule. Among dental assistants who’ve changed jobs within the last two years, 55% said finding better work-life balance was part of their motivation.

“We all need to remember to put ourselves first sometimes,” says Michele, CDA. “We always put the patient and office before ourselves, and sometimes it is okay to put yourself first. We need to stay happy and healthy in order to keep up our amazing work.”

Escaping difficult team dynamics

Many dental teams are close-knit and can feel like a second family for dental assistants. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at every practice. Some offices may have interpersonal drama or colleagues who are difficult to work with. If these issues are making your job tougher or more stressful, it may be time to look for a new dental assisting position. Just over half of dental assistants who’ve changed offices in the last two years did so due to difficult team dynamics.

Read more: 3 things great dental teams do (and 3 to avoid!)

Getting a promotion or more responsibility

Many dental assistants are eager to take on new responsibilities and step into leadership roles, such as lead dental assistant, infection control coordinator, or office manager. If you aren’t getting advancement opportunities at your current practice despite being qualified, you may be able to find career growth at another practice. While this reason for changing jobs wasn’t as common in DANB’s survey, 16% of dental assistants said their new office offered them a promotion or more responsibility.

Read more: How to make a smooth transition to a new dental office