A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Gender’s Impact on Clinical Efficiency and Patient Visits

New research from the Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) into the practice characteristics of female dentists offers insights into the efficiency and busyness of female providers compared to their male counterparts.

New research from the Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) into the practice characteristics of female dentists offers insights into the efficiency and busyness of female providers compared to their male counterparts.1 Drawing on peer reviewed journal articles, American Dental Association (ADA) member data and ADA Survey of Dental Practice data, the CHWS discovered that female dentists spend slightly less time in the dental office and less time treating patients than male dentists. However, female providers also reported more patient visits per week.

While the authors note the difference — 53.4 patient visits per week for female dentists versus 50.9 visits for male dentists — is not statistically significant, they suggest it indicates female clinicians may be just as productive overall, despite lower mean time in the dental office. Compared to male clinicians, female dentists also managed to see slightly more emergency and walk-in patients per week — 5.7 for female dentists versus 5.6 for male dentists.Though female dentists represent less than one-third of the workforce (29.8%), the report indicates traditional expectations for male dentists may be evolving — with female dentists possibly being in greater demand among patients. For example, the CHWS study noted that a significantly larger proportion of female practice owners reported increases in patient volume, whereas male practitioners were more likely to report no change.

Researchers have found a general preference for part-time and flexible schedules among women and younger workers.2 In support of this observation, the average age of female dentists is nearly a decade less than male dentists (43.9 versus 52.8 years).1 Some have theorized such scheduling might negatively impact access to care because providers who work fewer hours would likely see fewer patients. But for dentistry at least, this concern may be overblown, as the report indicates female dentists are highly efficient in regard to office time and patient volume.

REFERENCES

  1. Surdu S, Langelier M, Liu Y, Goodwin N. A National Study of the Practice Characteristics of Women in Dentistry and Potential Impacts on Access to Care for Underserved Communities. Available at: http://www.oralhealthworkforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/OHWRC_Women_in_Dentistry_2019.pdf. Accessed August 19, 2019.
  2. Chung H, van der Lippe T. Flexible working, work-life balance, and gender equality: Introduction. Soc Indic Res. Epub November 26, 2018.

From Decisions in Dentistry. September 2019;5(8):52.

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