LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials agreed to double hiring bonuses for dentists who choose to work in state hospitals and prisons in an effort to lure them into a practice that overwhelmingly pays less than the private sector.
The Civil Service Commission, which oversees the state’s nearly 50,000-person workforce, voted Wednesday to add a $5,000 bonus for newly hired dentists who complete a year-long probationary period.
The move brings the total signing bonus for state-employed dentists to $10,000, the Lansing State Journal reported.
“The (departments) have identified difficulties in attracting dentists to the classified workforce,” Civil Service Commission General Counsel John Gnodtke said Wednesday.
The positions pay between $38 and $60 per hour. As of Tuesday, most of the 15 available dentist positions in Michigan are in state prisons, according to the state government jobs website.
The state Department of Health and Human Services currently employs four dentists in state psychiatric hospitals. The state Department of Corrections also employs dentists in state prisons. None of the dentists are in their probationary period, Gnodtke said.
In private practice, dentists earn “significantly more” than $38 to $60 hourly, Michigan Dental Association Executive Director Karen Burgess said. The median income for general practice dentists who work full-time is $150,000 annually, she said.
State corrections department spokesman Chris Gautz acknowledges that it’s difficult recruiting medical professionals to work for lower salaries in prisons.
A position at the Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon has been posted since 2014.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to increase employment in those areas,” Gautz said. “We need to find a way to bring them in. Hopefully this retention bonus will do some good.”