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Resources | OHI Toolkit | Option 2: Currently Offers On-Site Dental Services | Expansion/Addition of Off-Site Direct Services | Workforce Resources


Resources | OHI Toolkit | Option 2: Currently Offers On-Site Dental Services | Expansion/Addition of Off-Site Direct Services

It is critical when expanding an existing dental program that health centers consider their workforce and staffing. Workforce issues are a primary concern for health center dental programs. Consideration of the following will help ensure a successful workforce model:

  • Recruitment strategies for dental providers and team members

  • Retention strategies for dental providers and team members

  • Training opportunities that align with the health center mission of building community capacity and/or serve as recruitment and retention strategies

In addition to the Workforce and Staffing chapter of the NNOHA Operations Manual, the following list provides other resources on workforce and staffing that will be beneficial while expanding on-site direct dental services at a health center:

  • The NNOHA Job Bank is an excellent resource to recruit dental providers and team members. Job postings are publicized on the NNOHA website and in the bi-weekly NNOHA Newsletters.

  • In 2018, NNOHA conducted a workforce survey among its membership. The Analysis of the 2018 Member Workforce Survey includes responses from health center dental providers and leadership on topics like dental staff salary ranges, benefits, and factors that influence job satisfaction and may be used to inform health center oral health programs in their recruitment and retention strategies.

  • Recruiting and retaining a health center dental workforce can be challenging. NNOHA has compiled recruitment and retention tips for health centers working to build a strong and high-quality dental workforce. It is important that health centers make their program distinct and desirable for potential dental providers. Health centers should review workforce recruitment strategies to make their health center stand out. While recruiting staff and providers, there may be many questions that arise about what it is like to work for a health center. This Health Center Dental Employment FAQ is a resource that can be shared with interested candidates.

  • One strategy for recruitment is through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). NHSC has a loan repayment and scholarship program for dental providers if they work in a NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area. Health centers may recruit dental providers who have a loan repayment or scholarship with NHSC to work in their dental program. Dental providers can apply for the loan repayment program while working in a health center that meets the HPSA dental scoring requirement. This may serve as a recruitment perk. NNOHA has developed a fact sheet that outlines the different options available through NHSC.

  • Volunteer dental providers are a possibility when creating a health center oral health program. NNOHA’s promising practice, Creative Staffing with Professional Volunteers discusses the strategies used to expand volunteers’ capabilities when facing budgeting issues. In addition, health centers can apply for FTCA medical malpractice coverage for a qualified Volunteer Health Professional (VHP).

  • Provider burnout is a challenge in retaining the dental health center workforce. NNOHA’s conference session presentation, Bouncing Back from Burnout reviews tools to regain enthusiasm from dental workforce in health centers and another conference session presentation, The Best Me discusses how to reduce clinical stress and burnout in health center dental programs. The Association for Clinicians for the Underserved has many resources on burnout for health care providers including the Burnout Assessment Tool to assist health centers in identifying strategies that may improve provider retention.

Academic Partnerships

Health centers may consider partnerships with academic institutions and residency programs to provide workforce when expanding on-site direct dental services. Academic partnerships may lead to potential recruitment of oral health professionals through service-learning programs. The HRSA OHI funding can be used for collaborative activities with educational institutions to serve as a rotation site for dental students or community site for a residency program.

The following resources may be helpful in establishing academic partnerships:

  • NNOHA’s white paper, provides strategies for health centers to develop partnerships with academic institutions and residency programs.

  • NNOHA developed an orientation narrative template for dental students who attend a service learning program through a health center as part of their orientation process.

  • NNOHA’s preconference session presentation, Growing an Academic Health Center Practice is divided into three sections. The first provides the perspective of a dental school. The second describes a health center’s experience in developing an academic partnership including the cost benefits. The third describes postdoctoral residency program and health centers.

Innovative Dental Team Members

Over the last few years, there have been an emergence of new dental team members that may be utilized within health centers. Health centers with established dental programs may consider a new dental team member for expanding oral health services at their health center.

The following resources may be helpful in utilizing new dental team members:

  • This webinar outlines the various types of midlevel dental providers.

  • NNOHA’s webinar series on community dental health coordinators (CDHC) and dental therapists (DT) show how these dental team members may be utilized in health centers.

  • NNOHA’s conference panel discussion featured a CDHC and a DT who worked in health centers.



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NNOHA is the largest group of safety-net oral health practitioners in the country, and our members all share a commitment to increasing access to quality oral health care for underserved populations. NNOHA is committed to providing the highest quality resources and support designed to meet the unique needs of our members and their programs.

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