A common theme at conferences and in dental media lately is a shortage of people to hire. The sustained pre-Covid economic
boom was already exerting pressure on the labor supply, and the past
eighteen months have made things much worse.
The American Association of Dental Hygienists states that 8% of dental
hygienists have left the profession since Covid struck, and we have
every reason to believe that the same is true for other dental office
Whether externally imposed or an office policy, a requirement for staff to be vaccinated can make things worse by further limiting the pool of available talent.
In the news last night, I saw that United Airlines is about to fire 600 employees who do not conform to its policy of universal vaccination.
In a narrow sense, this represents an opportunity for a dentist somewhere. The depleted labor pool is about to be augmented by people coming from a customer service field. There is probably much to criticize about how airlines treat passengers, but we have several former airline employees with whom we have had excellent experience.
More broadly, the trend towards mandatory employee vaccination is going to force dentists into difficult choices. I won't enter the science versus personal freedom debate. However, I see considerable discussion in dental forums
about how to handle vaccination inquiries from patients. Clearly, some patients expect their healthcare providers to be vaccinated, and will question you or your staff about status and policies, and saying "the vaccination status of our staff is a private health matter" will not be considered a satisfactory answer.
Not mandating staff vaccinations may cost you patients. A mandatory vaccination policy may run contrary to the beliefs of some team members and, as discussed in the article above, may shrink an already undersized applicant pool when hiring.
I have no "right answer" about whether mandating vaccination is something you should do, or how to answer patient questions if you do not. What is important is to recognize this emerging issue, discuss it with your staff, and hopefully reach a consensus acceptable to all.
In case you are wondering where Prosperident stands, our policy is that
any team member who works in our head office or
interfaces with the public (e.g., traveling or speaking for Prosperident) must be vaccinated.
As always, I'd love to hear from any dentist interested in lowering their vulnerability to embezzlement, or in confirming that it isn't taking place in their practice. Please reply to this email, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.