Journal Articles

Surdu S, Mertz E, Langelier M, Moore J. Dental workforce trends: A national study of gender diversity and practice patterns. Sage Journals. Published online August 28, 2020. doi: 10.1177/1077558720952667.

Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1077558720952667

The dental workforce is increasingly gender diverse. This study analyzed gender differences in dental practice using the American Dental Association’s 2010-2016 Masterfile and the 2017 Survey of Dental Practice. Between 2010 and 2016, the proportion of women working in dentistry increased from 24.5% to 29.8%. Overall, female dentists were more racially/ethnically diverse, more likely to be foreign-trained, and more likely to work in pediatric dentistry than male dentists. The likelihood of female dentists working as employees, part-time, and/or in metropolitan areas was 1.2 to 4.2 times greater compared with male dentists. Female solo practitioners were 1.2 to 1.8 times more likely to provide services to children and patients covered by public insurance than male solo practitioners. Gender diversification in dentistry and other factors, including generational differences and changes in the dental service delivery system and public policy, will continue to reshape the delivery of oral health services.

Fraher EP, Pittman P, Frogner BK, Spetz J, Moore J, Beck AJ, Armstrong D, and Buerhaus PI. Ensuring and Sustaining a Pandemic Workforce. N Engl J Med. April 2020; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2006376.

Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2006376?query=featured_home

Current efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic aim to slow viral spread and increase testing, protect health care workers from infection, and obtain ventilators and other equipment to prepare for a surge of critically ill patients. But additional actions are needed to rapidly increase health workforce capacity and to replenish it when personnel are quarantined or need time off to rest or care for sick family members. It seems clear that health care delivery organizations, educators, and government leaders will all have to be willing to cut through bureaucratic barriers and adapt regulations to rapidly expand the U.S. health care workforce and sustain it for the duration of the pandemic.

Frogner BK, Fraher EP, Spetz J, Pittman P, Moore J, Beck AJ, Armstrong D, Buerhaus PI. Modernizing Scope-of-Practice Regulations–Time to Prioritize Patients. N Engl J Med. February 2020;382(7):591-593. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1911077.

Available at:
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1911077

Over the past decade, numerous reforms have been implemented by the federal government and by states to expand health insurance coverage, change payment models, motivate organizations to reconfigure the ways they deliver care, modify eligibility for Medicaid, and better prepare the health workforce for pressing behavioral care, primary care, geriatric care, and community care needs. To realize the potential of these laudable reforms, we believe that states should eliminate overly restrictive scope-of-practice regulations that they impose on the health professions. Doing so would allow us to unlock the full potential of the country’s health workforce.

Lo Sasso AT, Armstrong D, Forte G, Gerber SE. M. Differences in Starting Pay for Male and Female Physicians Persist; Explanations For the Gender Gap Remain Elusive.  Health Affairs 39, No. 2 (2020); 256-263.

Available at:
https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/pdf/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00664

A large literature has documented differences in salary between male and female physicians. While few observers doubt that women earn less, on average, than men do, the extent to which certain factors contribute to the salary difference remains a topic of considerable debate. Using ordinary least squares regression and Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition models for new physicians who accepted positions in patient care for the years 1999–2017, we examined how the gender gap in total starting pay evolved and the extent to which preferences in work-life balance factors affect the gap. We found that the physician earnings gap between men and women persisted over the study period. Interestingly, despite important gender differences in preferences for control over work-life balance, such factors had virtually no ability to explain the gender difference in salary. The implication is that there remain unmeasured factors that result in a large pay gap between men and women.

Langelier M. Innovations in Scope of Practice. Dimens Dent Hyg. January 2020; 18(1):16-17.

Available at:
https://dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/article/innovations-in-scope-of-practice/

Over the past decade, legislatures across the United States have grappled with scope of practice issues for health professions, including dental hygiene. Almost every state has provided new permissions or enabled conditions for broader practice in response to new technology, improved science, novel dental materials, or alternative methods for delivery of care. Downstream effects of these changes include opportunities for innovative dental hygiene practice. In addition, the fundamental shift in health care delivery away from the medical paradigm of identifying and treating existing disease toward early intervention in prevention of disease processes has had collateral effects on dentistry and dental hygiene. Dental hygienists’ competencies are grounded in patient education, motivational interviewing, and preventive and prophylactic clinical services. This expertise has positioned the profession to play a pivotal role in efforts to improve the oral health of the US population. Dental hygienists are now more commonly viewed as primary preventive oral health specialists with separate and critical responsibilities in the oral health care continuum of care.

Surdu S, Dall T, Langelier M, Forte G, Chakrabarti R, Reynolds R. The pediatric dental workforce in 2016 and beyond. JADA. July 2019; 150(7):609-617.

Available at:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2019.02.025

Supply and demand projections came from a health workforce tool that investigators have used to model the health care workforce for a wide variety of health occupations, including dentists.We provide a brief summary of the data, methods, and assumptions for modeling supply and demand, with additional information provided in a technical appendix (available online at the end of this article).

Moore J, Goodwin N. Expanding Access to Care with Scope of Practice. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. 2019; 17(3):12-14.

Available at:
https://dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/article/expanding-access-care-scope-practice/

There has been longstanding concern about uneven access to oral health services, particularly for some groups, including children, the elderly, racial/ethnic minorities, and the economically disadvantaged.  Stakeholders with an interest in expanding access to care and improving the oral health status of the underserved are driving efforts to identify and adopt innovative strategies to improve population oral health. Dental hygienists (DHs), who are considered experts in prevention education and services, often play important roles in programs that improve access to needed oral health services

State-based laws and regulations define legal scopes of practice (SOP) for health professionals within a state. This contributes to variation in what DHs in different states are legally allowed to do. It is challenging to systematically describe these SOP differences, assess their impacts on population oral health and translate this into policy-relevant information. With support from HRSA’s National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, researchers at the Oral Health Workforce Research Center (OHWRC), Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS), developed a professional practice index to describe DH SOP across states and studied impacts of this variation on state oral health outcomes. Subsequently, researchers developed an infographic based on this work to depict state-level variation in DH SOP to help oral health advocacy groups, policy makers and other stakeholders better understand these issues.

Moore J. Health Professions Regulation in the United States. J Health Law (Revista de Direito Sanitario). October 2018;19(2):131-155.

Available at:
https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.2316-9044.v19i2p131-155

In the US, states are primarily responsible for the regulation of health professions. The structure and content of state-specific health professions regulation has significant impacts on the delivery of health care services. This is particularly important given that health reform initiatives are designed to improve population health through the provision of accessible, high quality, and affordable basic health services. There is concern that existing state-based, profession-specific regulatory structures cannot easily support the workforce innovations necessary for health reform. Aspects of the current system that constrain the effective and efficient use of the health workforce include mismatches between professional competence and legal scopes of practice, lack of consistency in legal scopes of practice across states, limited flexibility to support overlap in scopes of practice across professions, and the slow and adversarial process for changing scope of practice rules.

Langelier M, Surdu S. Dental hygiene scope of practice regulation significantly impacts oral health outcomes in state populations. Perspectives on the Midlevel Practitioner (Dimens Dent Hyg suppl). October 2017;4(10):18-21.

Available at:
http://www.dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/2017/perspectives_2017/Scope_of_Practice/Top-of-License_Dental_Hygiene_Practice.aspx

Rapid changes in health care systems during the first decades of the 21st century have significantly affected the delivery of oral health care services. In the policy arena, the new emphasis on high-quality, value-based services;1 improvements in diagnostic and treatment technologies and materials; proliferation of information systems and health information exchanges; team-based service delivery models; and integration of primary care and oral health care2 has influenced the deployment of health and oral health workforces. The move toward prevention and management of oral disease and away from the historical treatment paradigm requires the engagement of a comprehensive professional team.3 Dental hygienists are well positioned to contribute to improvements in access to preventive oral health services and, ultimately, to oral health outcomes.3

Mertz E, Spetz J, Moore J. Pediatric Workforce Issues. Dent Clin N Am. 2017;61(3):577-588.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cden.2017.02.004

According to the US Surgeon General, dental disease is among the most prevalent health conditions for children, and large disparities in oral health status and access to oral health services exist among children in the United States. In 2003, the National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health outlined the need to increase the diversity, capacity, and flexibility of the dental workforce in order to better meet children’s oral health needs and reduce disparities. Assessing progress toward the Call to Action, in 2009 the authors found only modest gains in workforce strategies focused on pediatric patients, and major challenges remaining. In 2009 the Institute of Medicine held a workshop on the sufficiency of the oral health workforce for the coming decade, which outlined the status of the dental workforce, and highlighted for the first time the multitude of new workforce models being proposed and tried. A special issue of the Journal of Public Health Dentistry entirely focused on the contributions of workforce innovations to delivery system redesign followed, with one of the key messages being that workforce design should be tied directly to meeting the patient care needs, with special attention to reducing disparities in oral health care, and in oral health. As 2017 begins, progress has been documented in children’s use of care primarily because of improvements in coverage through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This article updates and synthesizes the evidence on clinical pediatric workforce models and discusses future directions and implications for health policy.