DANB hosts forum to address dental assistant workforce

Group photo of forum participants waving

On July 14, 2022, the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and the DALE Foundation hosted a forum for leaders in dentistry, oral health, and healthcare.

Held in Chicago, the Dental Assistant Stakeholder Forum on the Future Workforce was an invitation-only event, which brought together executives and strategists from more than 20 organizations to share their perspectives and identify ways to collectively work toward solutions to assure a robust, effective, and adequately staffed dental assistant workforce.

“From my conversations with leaders of other dental organizations and from the data and trends we are seeing, we recognize that the dental workforce shortage remains a top priority,” said DANB and DALE Foundation CEO Laura Skarnulis. “Workforce development, particularly for dental assistants, is a critical issue — one that impacts not only dentists and their teams, but also the patients and public they serve.”

According to DANB’s 2020-2021 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey, more than 40% of responding dental assistants said their practice needed to hire one or more new dental assistants, and almost 60% said that hiring has been more challenging than in previous years.

Similarly, the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute’s Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry report from June 13, 2022, noted that more than 39% of dentists were actively recruiting dental assistants, with 86% reporting it was extremely or very challenging to do so.

The Dental Assistant Stakeholder Forum on the Future Workforce explored these issues and more through dynamic and interactive sessions, which included reflections on the industry’s current state, along with structured activities to imagine new models and brainstorm initiatives to undertake individually and collectively.

“The organizational leaders who participated brought tremendous insights and valuable perspectives, and together, we identified many relevant imperatives and collaboration opportunities,” Skarnulis said. “It is essential to have a robust and well-trained dental assistant workforce now and in the future. To achieve this goal, we need to build on the existing foundation while also exploring new ways of working. I look forward to collaborating with a variety of partners in dentistry, oral healthcare, and beyond.”