Developing your dental nursing skills

18th Jul 2022

We interviewed Cavity Locum Sara for her viewpoints on the importance of adding to your skillset after you qualify and how the opportunities in this are endless when you choose to Locum as your first career path.

Why is it important to add to a skillset throughout a career?

- to continue to keep your mind active and interested in the job that you’re doing. In the process you might discover new things about yourself. I personally enjoy the most my job when I am familiar with a sub speciality (experience in surgical, implants, endo, pros etc) because I can feel 100% involved in the treatment, expect what’s coming next and this better support) - grows the feeling of helping others. 


Would you recommend seeking educational opportunities and skill development in a market desperate for dental nurses?

- yes because it means there will be various opportunities for training to choose from and perhaps the possibility for practices to accommodate your desired working hours.  When I started to train working full time was a requirement whereas now practice will take part time too which means more flexibility for new starters 


What areas are key for dental nurses at the moment/where should dental nurses begin if they want to become a locum dental nurse?

- should be familiar with all treatments  of general dentistry should be sufficient but if have chance dip into any specialty available at your practice that’s always a bonus. 


What qualities are required to become a locum dental nurse?

- organisation 

- professionalism 

- friendliness 

- being chill honestly probably one of the important ones

- good cross infection standards


How can dental nurses be sure they make a great first impression?

- be on time 

- smile and they will love you. All practices are so glad to see you coming in and helping out. 

- follow good cross infection rules 

 - if you’ve got a gap go and ask if anyone else needs help 

- during treatment do extra things for your clinician like adjust mirror, retract cheeks to allow better visibility, check with your patient to make sure they are ok. In one word be involved and you won’t get bored for sure and will definitely feel more appreciated. 


What are the benefits of becoming a locum?

- flexible schedule 

- better pay

- enormous opportunities for development 

- holiday whenever you’d like (respecting notice ahead) instead of waiting to get it at the same with your dentist 


How important is to ask questions at any placement?

- very important. All clinicians work differently and the amount of knowledge you can get it’s so vast. Asking questions will expand your knowledge and probably you might be able to use it at your next work placement and impress them. Being an excellent dental nurse means that you have superior knowledge why a certain material is being requested for example  (I.e understand how it affect patients dental  problem) as well as how certain medical co dictions may influence dental treatments or patients oral health. 


How key is adaptability?

- practices will cancel from time to time and you need to be able to understand that shifts will change when needed

- some days you may work with therapists and some days with dentist ls or even specialists so your skills will have to adapt as needed. 

- sometime shifts get cancelled and you need to be on standby until a new job comes through 

- some practice use fancier equipment than others so you’ll need to adapt to what you have to hand. 

- Sometimes practices are short of equipment so you need to adapt and do the best and safest job with what you have


What are the challenges?

- commuting can be tiring

- not all people are going to be jolly and all smiley with you and you need to not take it personally. It’s either their personality or they have their own problems. You just need to do your job and remember to not draw conclusions quickly. 


What are the benefits?

- see Q asking about benefits of becoming a locum above


What attributes make for a successful experience?

- friendly attitude 

- being calm 

- organise your time so don’t forgot to put instruments through etc 

- check buses trains if commuting and ensure that you know how long it will take you to get there


Can an agency help dental nurses settle into a role? If so, how? What support should a good agency offer?

- perhaps having a platform where all nurses could communicate so that they can ask questions 

- some form regular check-ins (similar to appraisals) 


What paperwork will a locum dental nurse require?

- GDC reg

- indemnity 


- immunisations