Dental Hygiene Workforce in Iowa: Snapshot and Recommendations for a Workforce Monitoring System

In 2012, the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation (DDIF) convened a workgroup of stakeholder organizations to investigate factors related to the labor market environment for dental hygienists in Iowa. The initiation of this workgroup came from a paucity of information about hygienist workforce in the state, as well as anecdotes that a workforce surplus is causing difficulty for hygienists trying to find employment.

With the intent to create an ongoing data collection system to monitor trends in Iowa dental hygiene workforce, the DDIF initially invited the Iowa Dental Board (IDB) and the Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), as these groups hold ongoing sources of data about Iowa hygienists. The workgroup then invited representatives from additional stakeholder organizations to solicit broad input on the content and format of a workforce monitoring system. These organizations include the Iowa Dental Hygienists’ Association (IDHA), the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and dental hygiene training programs.

Concurrently, the University of Iowa Public Policy Center (PPC) received an oral health workforce grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to coordinate and improve oral health workforce activities in Iowa. When the stakeholder group learned of this, representatives from the PPC were invited to collaborate. In order to provide a backdrop on information that had already been collected from dental hygienists in Iowa, the PPC team created a database containing 1) dental hygiene surveys that had been administered in Iowa, and 2) other state dental hygiene surveys for comparison.

The PPC team identified five key data sources for recent information on dental hygienists in the state:

  • IDHA survey (2005)
  • Allen College survey (2012)
  • IDB relicensure data (updated every odd-numbered year)
  • IDPH Public Health Supervision data (updated on an ongoing basis)
  • Iowa Workforce Development data (updated every year)

This report contains a compilation and synthesis of these existing data sources, and is intended to serve as both a source of background information on the supply of dental hygienists in Iowa as well as a guide for developing an ongoing data collection system for monitoring dental hygiene workforce trends in the future.

Reynolds, J., Kuthy, R., Pooley, M., Kelly, M., & McKernan, S. Dental Hygiene Workforce in Iowa: Snapshot and Recommendations for a Workforce Monitoring System. : University of Iowa Public Policy Center.