My journey from dental nurse to coach – Charley Beagley

CharleyStarting my journey in dental nursing a decade ago, I didn't foresee the incredible adventure it would become. Dentistry wasn't even initially on my radar. At 18, I was navigating the retail world, unsure of where life would take me. It was a chat with my now mother-in-law, a dental hygienist, that got me thinking about dental nursing. So, with a sense of curiosity, I took the plunge. And here I am, ten years later.

The early days were tough. The pressure to be perfect right off the bat was immense. I worried I wasn't learning quickly enough or meeting my dentist's high expectations. Looking back, I realise I was just learning. That's the thing about starting something new – there's always something to learn. Luckily, I had an amazing team to lean on. We supported each other through the tough days and celebrated the wins together.

After qualifying, I decided to try agency nursing with Lifeline Dental Agency. It was scary at first, but I learned so much. I got to work in different practices, see different treatments, and meet new people. My boss was fantastic too; always listening if I had any issues with the practice. That flexibility meant a lot to me. Then, during lockdown in 2020, I decided to start my assessor qualification. I used my furlough time to learn new skills.

I was lucky enough to start working as a trainee dental nurse assessor coach while doing my apprenticeship. It was a balancing act – nursing with the agency and coaching my own learners. In 2021, I went full-time with assessment and coaching. It felt like coming full circle. I wanted to be the kind of coach I would have wanted. Having done two apprenticeships myself, I understand what my learners are going through.

One of the things I love most about my job is guiding my learners through their apprenticeships and personal barriers. Seeing them succeed after putting in the work is incredibly rewarding. I see them as whole people, not just apprentices. The dental nursing journey is like a rollercoaster, and I love being there for my learners every step of the way.

When my learners are struggling, I always ask them why they wanted to become dental nurses in the first place. It's amazing to see them light up as they remember their passion. It helps reignite that fire and keep them motivated.

For anyone considering a career in dental nursing, I'd say to make sure it's something you really want to do. It's a big commitment – about two years of training. But it's so fulfilling when you see the impact you can have on your patients. Talk to your manager or dentist about your options to make sure you choose the path that’s right for you.

My best advice is to ask questions and not be too hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes when they're new. It's all part of the learning process.

I've found that I really enjoy coaching, so I'm expanding my skills in that area. Sometimes, we'll set aside the coursework and just focus on the learner as a person. If they're struggling with work/life balance or confidence, for example, we'll work through those issues together.

In life, it's easy to focus on the negatives and what could go wrong. But why not think about the positives and what could go right? If there's something you want to do, go for it. You never know unless you try.

This is the story of my journey from dental nurse to coach – a journey of resilience, curiosity and determination.

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