Staff salaries continue to rise, but employee numbers level

Median, total staff salaries continue to climb, but the number of employees remains fairly level, according to results of Dental Economics` 1996 Practice Survey. Median staff salaries for dentists responding to our survey was $86,800 in 1995, a sharp increase from the median of $75,001 in 1994. Some 32.7 percent of this year`s respondents paid $100,001-$200,000 in total staff salaries, up substantially from 25.9 percent the previous year. Another 6.2 percent told us staff pay totaled $200,001 or

Nov 1st, 1996
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Dental Economics` Practice Survey indicates a big jump in median staff salaries.

Penny Elliott Anderson, Senior Editor

Median, total staff salaries continue to climb, but the number of employees remains fairly level, according to results of Dental Economics` 1996 Practice Survey. Median staff salaries for dentists responding to our survey was $86,800 in 1995, a sharp increase from the median of $75,001 in 1994. Some 32.7 percent of this year`s respondents paid $100,001-$200,000 in total staff salaries, up substantially from 25.9 percent the previous year. Another 6.2 percent told us staff pay totaled $200,001 or more, the same percentage reported in our 1995 Practice Survey.

Some 58.1 percent of 1996 survey respondents said they employ between one and three auxiliaries, down from 59.5 percent in our 1995 survey.An-other 21.6 percent employ four to five auxiliaries, down from 21.8 percent the previous year.

Median number of auxiliaries employed by respondents as a whole was three, identical to last year`s survey findings. The median number of part-time auxiliaries employed by solo, space-sharing solo and partnership practices remained at one, and the median for group practices remained at 2.5.

Some 26.4 percent of solos, 19.4 percent of space-sharing solos, 26.1 percent of partnership practitioners, 17.6 percent of group practitioners and 23.5 percent of the employee/contractor-associates said they employed a combined chairside assistant/receptionist in their offices. This compares with 30.7 percent of solos, 20.5 percent of space-sharing solos, 17.7 percent of partnerships, 4.8 percent of groups and 23.2 percent of employee/contractor-associates in the previous year`s survey.

Reading the Charts

The charts accompanying this article utilize the ranges we have used for several years and show the total number of auxiliaries and types of auxiliaries employed by respondents as a whole. We further broke down this data to show staffing patterns for respondents in five forms of practice-solos, space-sharing solos, partnerships, groups and employee/contractor-associates.

Also shown in ranges in chart form are total, annual staff salaries, the average hourly salaries for receptionists/bookkeepers and experienced chairsides and average daily salaries of hygienists, as well as the number of hygiene patients seen weekly. The survey was conducted in 1996, but the data received is for 1995.

We then took the exact answers to each of these questions and plotted the medians for respondents as a whole and for the five forms of practice. Charts 7 and 8 reflect the answers of respondents who said they employ hygienists.

The Median Practice

The profile of staffing patterns for respondents as a whole depicts a practice with three full-time auxiliaries, identical to last year`s results. The staff includes one office assistant, one chairside and one hygienist. Staff salaries total $86,800, up from $75,001 in our 1995 survey and $68,111 in our 1994 survey. Median hourly salary for a receptionist/bookkeeper is $11.00, up from $10.50 last year; and the median for an experienced chairside also is $11.00, up from $10.00 in our 1995 survey. Average daily salary of a hygienist, where one is employed, is $168.05, down slightly from last year`s $169.78, but still up significantly from $150 daily in our 1994 survey. The median practice sees 40 hygiene patients weekly, up from 36 patients per week.

The median solo practice employs the same number and type of auxiliaries as respondents as a whole, but staff salaries total $81,233, a significant increase from $71,090 in our 1995 Practice Survey and $64,000 in our 1994 survey. The median hourly salary of a receptionist/bookkeeper is $11.00, up from $10.50 hourly the previous year; and the median hourly salary for an experienced chairside is $10.00, identical to last year`s figures. Average daily salary for a hygienist is $169.96, up slightly from $168.00 in our 1995 survey. The median practice sees 38 patients per week, up from 36 patients last year.

Statistics for the median space-sharing solo practice depict two auxiliaries in the practice-a receptionist/bookkeeper and chairside assistant-down from three, full-time auxiliaries the previous year. Staff salaries total $67,000, down sharply from $80,001 in our 1995 survey. Median hourly salary of the receptionist/bookkeeper is $11.00, down slightly from $11.38 the previous year; and median hourly salary of the chairside assistant is $10.00, the same as last year`s figures. Average daily salary of a hygienist, where one is employed, is $170.04, down from $179.92 in our 1995 survey. The median space-sharing solo practice sees 40 hygiene patients weekly, identical to the previous year`s results.

The median partnership practice employs five full-time auxiliaries-two business-office assistants, two chairsides and a hygienist-with staff salaries totaling a median of $150,000, up from $125,000 in our 1995 survey and $109,678 in our 1994 survey. Median hourly compensation for a business-office assistant is $12.00, up from $11.00 per hour last year; and median hourly pay for a chairside is $11.00, the same as last year`s results. For the second, consecutive year, average daily salary of a hygienist in the median partnership practice decreased, going from $174.92 in our 1994 survey to $170.05 in our 1995 survey to $160.04 in this year`s survey. The practice sees 68 hygiene patients a week, up from 60 last year.

The median group practice also has five full-time auxiliaries-two business office assistants, two chairsides and a hygienist-with staff salaries totaling $190,000, down sharply from $257,000 in our 1995 survey and $240,000 in our 1994 survey. Average hourly salary of a business office-assistant is $10.00, identical to last year`s results; and average hourly salary of a chairside is $9.00, down from $12.00 an hour in 1995`s survey and $9.88 an hour in 1994`s survey. Average daily salary of a hygienist is $176.00, up from $160.00 daily last year. The median group practice sees 55 hygiene patients per week, down from 89 hygiene patients per week in our 1995 survey and 125 patients a week in our 1994 survey.

A profile of the median employee/contractor-associate practice depicts four, full-time staff members-one receptionist/bookkeeper, two chairsides and one hygienist-with staff salaries totaling $121,500, up from $110,000 the previous year. Median hourly salary for both a receptionist/bookkeeper and a chairside is $10.00, identical to last year`s results. Average daily salary of a hygienist is $160.03, down from $168.00 the previous year. The median employee/contractor-associate practice sees 55 hygiene patients weekly, up from 50 patients a week in our 1995 survey.

Regional Variations

Is there much variation in staff salaries by region? The answer is yes. For a receptionist/bookkeeper, the median salary varies from $10.00 to $12.00 an hour; for an experienced chairside, the median salary variance ranges from $10.00 to $11.50 per hour; and for a hygienist, average daily salary varies from $150.00 to $175.00. What follows are the specific medians by region:

Receptionist/Bookkeeper (hourly rate): New England, $12.00; Middle Atlantic, $12.00; East North Central, $10.00; West North Central, $10.00; South Atlantic, $11.00; East South Central, $10.00; West South Central, $10.00; Moun-tain, $11.65; and Pacific, $14.00.

Experienced Chairside (hourly rate): New England, $12.00; Middle Atlantic, $11.50; East North Central, $10.00; West North Central, $9.50; South Atlantic, $11.00; East South Central, $10.00; West South Central, $10.00; Mountain, $11.00; and Pacific, $13.00.

Hygienist (daily rate): New England, $168.00; Middle Atlantic, $167.50; East North Central, $150.00; West North Central, $150.00; South Atlan-tic, $175.00; East South Central, $147.00; West South Central, $168.00; Mountain, $200.00; and Pacific, $240.00.

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