Dental hygienist grads waiting months for licensing due to staff shortages

Recent Dental Hygienist graduates in Alaska are reporting around a 3 month wait-time in receiving their practicing licensing.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Recent Dental Hygienist program graduates in Alaska are reporting around a three-month wait time to receive their practicing license.

According to the Alaska Division Of Corporations, Businesses and Professional Learning, the delayed wait time occurring right now is not uncommon. The division has faced a 30% vacancy rate over the last year. The staff shortage impacts how many applications they are able to review over a period of time.

“We do have applications that are pending for the last two or three months,” Director Sara Chambers said. “Our goal is to try to get those reviewed and communication back to the applicant within three weeks.”

Right now, the division lacks any licensing examiners. The division said they are expecting this delay to continue until they are able to fill their two vacant openings. Chambers said that right now, supervisors have been stepping up to review applications.

However, Alaska Dental Society Executive Director David Logan said the problems extend further than just a staffing shortage. He said it has been an issue he has seen for almost two decades in the industry. The staffing shortages and the long wait time for board approval, are just the problem they are experiencing this time.

He said there always seems to be a problem.

“Through several administrations,” Logan said. “There’s always a reason why these seem to take long.”

Back in the early 2000s, Logan recalls seeing wait times ranging between three to four weeks — not months.

“A very reasonable time frame,” Logan said. ”Three months? That seems like a very ridiculous time frame.”

It is a problem that Logan does not expect to be fully solved, ever. Right now, he thinks the best solution would be to implement temporary licensing. According to Logan, he and other society members are discussing bringing the idea forward during the next Legislative session.

Chambers said that on Friday the licensing board and division will be holding a meeting to determine a game plan to help reduce the wait time applicants are now seeing. Chambers said she recommends that all current applications make sure all parts of their applications are fully completed to avoid additional wait times during processing.