11.25.11 Issue #507 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

RDH Salaries Are Not Immune to Economic Turbulence
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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At this writing, the Stock Market is doing well because it appears progress is being made with regard to the economies of Greece and Italy. Of course, all of that could unravel or a new economic shock could be rocking our universe by the time you read this. As intertwined as we know the world's finances are, it's still difficult to fathom that the fate of our economy and the potential threat of a double-dip recession here may be dictated by what happens somewhere out there.

Weary as we are of the economic turbulence of the last few years, the ride continues to present its share of challenges. The reality is that patient confidence reflects consumer confidence. When consumers aren't buying more than the basics, neither are patients. Patients are focused on the fundamentals of care. In other words, what patients need to maintain proper oral health is dictating oral health buying decisions much more so than desires for specific treatments. And while those of us with above average dental IQs would view the regularly scheduled oral hygiene appointment as a fundamental component of basic patient care, that's not necessarily what practices are seeing.

According to Dental Hygienist Jobs & Salary Survey 2011 by RDH eVillage, part 1: The Overall Picture, 78% of dental hygienists feel economic conditions have affected their ability to earn the maximum income that (they) pursue.

That being said, it's not all doom, gloom and woe out there. In fact, 50% of hygienists responding to the survey indicated that "business is good, but it has slowed down somewhat," and 26% said schedules remain full. All-in-all, just over three quarters of those responding indicate that the financial situation is relatively stable in dentistry. Certainly the situation is far from perfect, but welcome news nonetheless.

Although 76% of those responding to the survey said it has been more than a year since they last received a raise, the report shows that the average hourly rate of U.S. dental hygienists working in general dentistry settings is $42.01. Not surprisingly, the five highest annual median incomes for full-time dental hygienists are found in:

  1. 1. California $80,000
  2. 2. Washington $70,000
  3. 3. Arizona $68,000
  4. 4. Massachusetts $68,000
  5. 5. Virginia $67,000

However, the average daily rate for hygienists in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area is down more than $13 below the 2010 daily rate. In San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area, the daily rate is down $11 below last year. In Seattle, hourly rates have remained stable. In Phoenix and Boston, they have seen modest increases while Virginia has seen a modest decrease.

Looking specifically at average hourly rates reported by states with at least 30 respondents to the survey, the top 15 highest paying states are:

  1. 1. California - $48.88
  2. 2. Washington - $43.65
  3. 3. Maryland - $41.55
  4. 4. New Jersey - 40.66
  5. 5. Arizona - $40.58
  6. 6. Colorado - $39.11
  7. 7. Virginia - $38.80
  8. 8. Oregon - $38.66
  9. 9. Massachusetts - $37.84
  10. 10. Connecticut - $37.73
  11. 11. Illinois -$36.55
  12. 12. Texas - $35.76
  13. 13. New Hampshire - $35.64
  14. 14. Georgia - $34.25
  15. 15. New York -$33.59

Overall, 1,945 dental hygienists participated in the annual survey. Just over 50% have been licensed for at least 20 years. More than 80% work in general dentistry practices. Nearly 60% report that an associate's degree is their highest level of completed education. Less than 50% practice four days a week. Nearly 85% receive paid vacation and holidays. Just over 10% receive life insurance or disability insurance benefits from their employer. And three-quarters or 75% report their income is based on an hourly rate.

To see how your state stacks up, check out Dental Hygienist Jobs & Salary Survey 2011 by RDH eVillage, part 2: State by state breakdown of salaries and benefits HERE.

Next week, facing the economic realities of hygiene.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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