Friday, 19 April 2013


I'm registered for my dental nursing course!


It took a bit of time to find one that was workable, but I think it's very similar in structure to when I did an NVQ a few years ago.  Essentially, an assessor will come to the dental practice to act as a witness, write a report on what they observe me doing (such as check-ups, mixing materials etc), ask me questions relating to what I'm doing and why, I'll get assignments as we go, and together a portfolio of evidence is made to show that I can do the job.

It's not clear whether I'll still be required to take a qualifying exam at the end of it, but thus far it's looking good!

I've got a few small pieces of 'homework' to do before the assessor comes in for the first time so I'll be cracking on with that next week.

I've also had a blood test today.

Last year I got my Hepatitis B vaccines done - but my doctors surgery failed to mention that I needed a blood test to check that I actually had full immunity.  So off to Occupational Health I go!   They're the people that look after people who work in 'dangerous' jobs where they're at risk of infections and things like that.

Should I ever have a needlestick accident, for example, I'll be off to see them for a blood test to see if I've picked up anything nasty.

But today was all about taking some blood to primarily check my vaccines have worked but also to test for just about everything else - Hep B and C, HIV, measles, mumps, rubella - you name it, they seem to be testing for it!

It's not just for my benefit but also for patients and work colleagues - no one wants to find out there's someone in the building who has an infectious disease and is spreading it around with the occasional sneeze!

Hopefully I'll be given the all-clear in a few weeks time when the report is posted to me.

Feel like some good progress has been made this week!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Probation Period is Up!

Good lord - where the hell did the last month go!?

Where do I even start?   Oh, right!  Of course!  My probation period is officially up.

I'm being kept on - woohoo!  They like me, they think I've got great potential and more than happy to keep me on.

The past three months have just flown by.  Being back in full time work has proven both satisfying and exhausting (although my stamina appears to be gradually improving).  I've just done three late nights on the trot ... and pick tonight of all nights to throw a blog post together ... yeah, I'm logical that way.

I've certainly learnt an awful lot - it's almost hard to imagine that I knew sod all on my first day.  Now I'm assisting with check-ups, mixing filling materials, helping to make impression molds and lots of other stuff.

In addition to learning the ropes, I've had a promotion of sorts.  I was hired as a 'floating' nurse - someone who primarily works at collecting, cleaning and re-distributing used instruments for the nurses who work in surgery full time with a dentist.  About a month ago, one such nurse up and quit.   Thanks to her, I have now have a surgery all of my own and have been teamed up with a dentist.

Thus I now have more responsibility in keeping the surgery stocked, cleaned and prepped, as well as having a lot more practice at chair-side nursing than I could have hoped to gain whilst remaining a 'floating' nurse.

Now that the probation stint is over, I now have to get myself booked onto a dental nursing course.  There are various training centres around the country, but unfortunately for me, none are within a reasonable travelling distance that don't insist on holding the course during work hours - which doesn't help me or (potentially) two other trainees who would need to attend.   The dental practice is a business - having two or three members of staff out once a week, every week, for a year, isn't remotely practical.

So I'm looking into correspondence courses at the moment.  Contacted a few providers, and at least one of them looks fairly promising.  I just need to locate a functioning printer so I can print off the information pack I've been sent.

With any luck I'll be starting work on my qualification before too long.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Time Flies

Well, it's hard to believe it, but I've been in my new job for two whole months now!

It's been quite involved so I've not had much time to really get something written down to post here regarding what I've been up to.  Which has been a lot!

This has been partly down to my still being on my probation period, which is three months in total.  Essentially, you've got three months in which to prove yourself.  If I'm not showing that I  have the right attitude and the capacity to learn the skills required, then they'll let me go.

Which I'm pleased to say is extremely unlikely!

I've been getting really good feedback from the dentists I've been working with, the nurses seem happy with my support, and the even the head dentist is pleased with the reports - I even worked with him in the surgery for two days and he's satisfied that I'll make a good dental nurse!

Couldn't be more chuffed!

Once February comes to a close, I believe they'll start making arrangements for me to start the official training course.

I can't wait!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Dental Nursing: the career for you?

It's not always easy for people to decide on a career path.  There's endless options, but sometimes the choices are so overwhelming you don't even know where to start!

Certainly my 'career advice' at school left a lot to be desired!  It pretty much consisted of "advisers"  (I use that term extremely loosely) asking the same old question of 'What do you want to do?'  to which most people answered, 'I don't know' - leaving the advisers at a total loss.  Never mind that a few probing questions could have thrown up a few ideas of things to consider.

Dental nursing was never brought up.  Nursing in general wasn't mentioned.  Medical careers of any description just fell by the wayside.

It has taken me best part of a decade to suss out what I wanted to do.

But perhaps if you are considering a career as a dental nurse - which is a possibility as you are reading my blog! - maybe I can help a little in sharing my experience and observations of what you need to be a dental nurse.

Now, my observations may not be typical of Career Advisers but hey, I'm not going to shy away from the negatives nor the random elements that may never occur to people to mention.

So!  Without further ado, let me start with the first thing on my list of Is Dental Nursing the Career for Me?

1.  Do You Faint at the Sight of Blood?

I hope you raised an eyebrow at that!  If you didn't, think about it.  I'll wait.

Are you there yet?  Yes?  Cool.   Yes - the dental surgery is just that - a surgery.  It is a medical environment.

There. Will. Be. Blood.

I've been in my job for about a month and already I've had several nurses give me various accounts of more than a few potential new nurses that have come into the surgery, taken one look at the blood that appears during a tooth extraction and they've been flat on the floor in moments, looking pasty and ill.

They have all walked straight out of the door never to return. 

To me, that's insane!  They've taken the trouble to apply, get the interview, succeeded in getting the job ... and it never occurred to them what they might encounter working with a dentist!?

It makes me think that some people obviously don't think about stuff like this.  Hence, it's worth mentioning here!    If you can't abide blood, rule out dental nursing as a career right now.  There's no getting away from it.  As stupid as it sounds, I figure it's a rather important thing to point out.

Are you OK with blood?  Yes?   Awesome; consider yourself a step closer to dental nursing!

* You know, I'd love to add some images to my recent posts, but Blogger seems to have an issue at the moment and isn't giving me the option.  Hopefully at some point I'll be able to add some, brighten up these posts a bit - just looks a tad dull with just text, doesn't it?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Pure Water


Yep - water is the backbone of the a dental practice!  Surprised?  Well, perhaps you won't find it that surprising when I phrase it like this:

  • Purified water is essential for use in the autoclaves - tap water isn't going to cut the mustard here, it has to be purified.  Filtered water is not the same thing as purified; it has to be heated to kill off any micro-organisms

  • Without purified water in the autoclaves, the machine won't be able to properly sterilise the dental instruments

  • Without sterilised instruments, the dentist won't even have a clean mirror to have a nosey around your mouth - let alone do anything else like a scale and polish, a filling or an extraction

You probably don't think twice about that little mirror, whether it's clean or not - you just assume that it is - and of course it has to be before it goes anywhere near you!   It's a clinical environment and the human mouth is a fabulous place for bacteria to hang out in; anything that gets used inside your mouth is either single-use (and gets thrown away immediately after use) or made to withstand the sterilisation process.

But without purified water - nothing is getting sterilised.

Without being able to sterilise things, instruments get used up pretty darn fast and before you know it, the whole practice could grind to a halt because there's no water for the autoclaves!

I don't know how I feel about being primarily responsible for all that.  Yes - I'm primarily responsible for ensuring that the water purifier is filled regularly, any purified water decanted into appropriate containers so we have a constant stock of water.   We have several autoclaves and they're working most of the day - that's a lot of water we go through.

I imagine no one really thinks about it - certainly not the patients and maybe not the dentists themselves (since they don't have to keep tabs on it) - but like I said, without it, the practice would come to stop rather rapidly.

Friday, 7 December 2012

First Week Round Up

I have survived completed my first week as a trainee dental nurse!

Boy, am I knackered!!

It's hard enough going back to full time hours after two years of sporadic hours/days, but there's also the early starts (never been easy) and wrapping your head about something brand new.

On the up side, the days are going by fairly quickly and I'm not sat around being bored - there's no time to be bored!

Early Start

I knew exactly what was going to happen.  I'd go to bed early with the best of intentions, but be too excited (or nervous, sometimes it's hard to tell!) to fall asleep.  I'd eventually nod off around 11 or 12 only to jolt awake in the early hours, slightly panicked and mumbling "Do I have to get up now!?" only to grab the alarm clock and curse at the single digit of 3 or 4 in the early hours.  Roll over, bury self in the bed covers and try to get a few more hours of snooze.  7am will roll round, yet somehow I'll still stagger out of bed 'late', throw some tea and toast down my neck, scramble for clothes in spite of laying them out neatly the night before, they'll have moved during the night.  Hurry out the house, scrolling through a mental checklist of keys, shoes, textbook etc.

Thankfully, this has got easier as the week has progressed.  I may be out of practise with getting up before 8am, but once I'm in a routine it's not so hard.


Lucky for me, my new employer is not a million miles nor a dreadful journey away.  It should take, on a good day, about 15-20 minutes to drive there.

On a bad morning, you can hit every red light there is on route.  Or at least it'll feel like every red light on route!

Seems like the only hitches at the moment are the inclement weather.  I did invest in a windscreen cover; quite inexpensive but I felt it worth a try.  Turns out it works very well at keeping frost off my screen so that's one less window to scrape and it makes a big difference!  A little bit of de-icer on the rest of the car works wonders.  Doesn't stop my fingers freezing though.

Working Day

Hectic.  That sums up my first day.  Didn't get much less hectic as the week went by but at least I'm more familiar with the daily routine and helping out with tasks such as cleaning the surgery between patients, setting up at the start of the day and shutting it all down at the end.  Essentially all the basic cleaning duties.  The more complex work will come later as I build on the basic knowledge.

I will go into a bit more detail on things in my coming posts, hopefully give you more of an insight as to what a dental nurse gets up to on a daily basis and what they need to learn.

Which means I have to start with the absolute backbone of the dental surgery ...

Monday, 3 December 2012

First Day


I am knackered!

First day wasn't physically taxing or anything, but going from doing a few hours each day to a full 12 hours (starting from when I left the house at 7.30am and returning home at 7.30pm) is somewhat draining.

I've had so much happen over the past couple of weeks that I've not had much time to devote to the blog to even cover my interview.  Apologises for that!

Not that I'll be back on track any day soon - first week in the new job on full time hours for the first time in two years, plus sorting things out for a holiday I booked shortly before the interview came along ... well, the blog shall remain fruitless for the time being whilst I try to keep up with everything else that's going on at the moment.

But it goes without saying that I'm now quite pleased that this blog will now move into its second, long-awaited phase - of being the blog of a trainee dental nurse instead of someone job hunting for the position  :)