Rebecca Power talks us through her experience working as a dental nurse in a hospital setting and how it’s different from the practice.
How did you get into dental nursing?
I fell into dental nursing if I am completely honest. I wanted to move out of my parents house when I was younger and was looking for full time work. As a result, I was applying to numerous jobs and varying positions. The first interview I was given was by a small mixed practice advertising for a trainee dental nurse.
I was lucky enough to be accepted for the position at the end of my interview. I started work the week after. That was nine years ago now and I have never looked back!
What’s it like working in an NHS hospital?
Working in an NHS hospital is incredibly rewarding, albeit challenging when you are caring for, in some cases, severely ill patients. One thing that is invaluable working in a hospital is the opportunities to gain experience.
This can be in specialities such as forensic dentistry, orthodontics, osteotomy and corrective jaw surgery, cleft lip and palate clinics and minor oral surgeries, which isn’t always possible when you work in general practice.
How does it compare to working in a dental practice setting?
It may seem obvious, but working in a hospital setting as a dental nurse is extremely different to working in general practice. Typically, when you work in general practice you have a few dentists who you could be working with. Or you may only be assigned to one dentist and surgery.
Working in a hospital setting means that you could work with anywhere from one to 10 clinicians per week and not work in the same surgery twice.
Another thing that took a while to get used to, was that I assist restorative dental treatment a lot less. As there are specialised departments in our hospital, there is no need for us to take radiographs or dental photography. As a result, you have to be mindful of this and keep your skills up to date.
Why did you choose to work with max fax and ortho in a hospital?
Hospital dental nursing is not for everyone. I chose to make the move from general practice to hospital because I wanted to broaden my knowledge. I also wanted to expand my experience working with medically compromised patients and assisting with more severe or complex treatments.
It is definitely more workload. You have to keep up to date with your general CPD in line with your GDC registration. Plus you have to complete extra internal mandatory training.
What kind of challenges do you face?
Working with head and neck cancer specialists and seeing patients for consultations such as breaking bad news and cancer diagnosis are definitely the most challenging part of working in a hospital. Being there to support our patients through their journey is one of the ways we can help. I feel honoured that they let us be a part of that.
Would you recommend working in a hospital?
My answer is 100% yes. It definitely takes some adjusting to. But if you want to expand your knowledge and gain experience in medical and dental specialities, then hospital is the place for you!
The great thing about some hospitals is that you can be added to their ‘books’ as a bank staff member. This is a great way for dental nurses with an interest in hospital nursing to gain experience in the department without making a full-time commitment.
Where do you hope to go in the future?
Having been a dental nurse for the last nine years and absolutely loved my experience, my future goal and aspiration is to become a dental therapist. I have an interest in promoting oral health and the impact on our overall health.
Being able to broaden my knowledge and experience before my application to university is the short-term goal I am working on.
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