Survey provides insight on how to attract and retain dental assistants

Dental assistants and dentist

Dental assisting is a crucial role that is in demand. The number of dental assisting jobs that will need to be filled in the coming years is on the rise. Not only are there more dental assisting jobs to fill, but many areas are also experiencing a shortage of qualified dental assistants. 

That’s why it is especially critical for dental practices to know how to attract and retain knowledgeable and skilled dental assistants. The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) recently conducted a survey that provides some insight into this area.

DANB’s 2018-2019 Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey includes responses from nearly 1,500 dental assistants across the country, including those who hold DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification and those who do not. Below are some key findings from the research.

Most dental assistants enjoy their jobs.

Overall, job satisfaction is pretty high for all dental assistants. Of those surveyed, 82% of dental assistants who hold CDA certification reported very high or high job satisfaction, as did 75% of dental assistants who are not certified. This is good news because it indicates that dental assistants who go into this field are generally passionate about the work and helping patients. 

Not all dental assistants feel valued.

Of all surveyed dental assistants, 60% of those who are certified and 58% of those who are not certified agreed or strongly agreed that they feel valued by their employers. However, with almost half of dental assistants reporting not feeling valued, there is room for improvement. Research has shown that many dentists do recognize the value that dental assistants bring to the dental practice. Somehow this recognition and appreciation may not always be communicated effectively to the assistant. 

Many dental assistants are thinking of looking for a new job.

Just under half of surveyed dental assistants (43% of those who are certified and 47% of those who are not certified) said they have thought about leaving their current employer. Although this number might seem discouraging, job satisfaction can make a big impact. Nearly all of the dental assistants who are planning to stay with their current employer have high or very high job satisfaction.

Five job factors matter most to dental assistants.

When asked what factors are most important in a job, dental assistants identified five top features – both practical and personal:

  • Salary
  • Work/life balance
  • Insurance benefits
  • Feeling part of a team
  • Employer recognition
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