Ever wondered which course would be the most beneficial to study to develop your career as a dental nurse? The answer to this question is that everyone is different, and each course will benefit nurses and practices in different ways.
I’m going to share with you my course choices and which I would recommend. Below are the courses I have taken during my career to date:
- Impression-taking (in-house)
- Radiography (college)
- PTLLS (college)
- Treatment Coordination
My first course was Impression-taking. As I was working alongside a specialist orthodontist I felt that this course was really valuable, both to our patients and to my dentist, as patients could have impressions taken on the day without us running behind. The Impression-taking course can be carried out at a training centre, or in-house if your dental practice is able to offer you the training. I would personally strongly recommend that every dental nurse completes the impression-taking course as it can be completed in a short time period and gives you an additional skill. I personally found this course very simple as I had my dentist supporting me and patients were happy for me to take their impressions even during my training.
The second course I enrolled onto was NEBDN Radiography. This particular course ran part-time for twelve months at college, with a written examination at the end. Radiography is a skill that most dental practices expect a qualified dental nurse to have, so this particular course makes a dental nurse a lot more employable. Remember that the more qualifications you have, the more desirable you are to a dental practice. However I’m sure that some of you are reading this and thinking that twelve months of college whilst working full time is going to be stressful. BDA offer an online radiography course over just eight weeks, with an online examination at the end. This may be more suitable to some dental nurses who would find it difficult to juggle both working and studying. I personally found radiography difficult; this particular course required a lot of revision and studying to prepare for my examination. However, I still stand by my view that radiography is an essential skill/qualification that a nurse should endeavour to obtain.
The third course I attended was Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (also known as PTLLS). Whilst working as a dental nurse full time I took pride in training our new trainee dental nurses for one afternoon each week; it was a guilty pleasure to spend time training them from scratch and helping them develop into great nurses. This course gave me the experience not only to open a new career path, but also to utilise my skills among the trainee nurses. The PTLLS course focuses on the following modules:
- Level 4 - Roles, responsibilities and relationships in lifelong learning;
- Level 4 - Understanding inclusive learning and teaching in lifelong learning;
- Level 4 - Using inclusive learning and teaching approaches in lifelong learning;
- Level 4 - Principles of assessment in lifelong learning.
These modules cover everything from the basics of building up relationships in the classroom right through to learning methods to suit each of your students’ needs. The course develops your teaching methods and how to deliver your material. Other advantages of the course are that it teaches you how to use the Harvard referencing system in your coursework, and you also carry out a micro-teach session which is a thirty-minute lesson you put together and teach to a class of six students. I really enjoyed this course; I met some inspirational people, and it really does build up your confidence. I would recommend the course to anyone who wants to open up their career in dentistry into different paths. Education is valuable at all ages.
The fourth course I attended was Laura Horton’s Treatment Coordination course in London. I would say that this was the most influential course I have taken, and that if possible, all dental nurses (especially those working in private dental practices) should embrace this course - it is beneficial to yourself, your patients and your employer. Dentistry is changing and the range of roles performed by a new generation of professionals is expanding fast. The role of the nurse has become a more demanding one; nurses have more involvement in the patient journey as a whole, leaving dentists to concentrate on clinical aspects. The treatment coordinator is responsible for creating the ideal new patient experience and creating a memorable, pleasant journey within the practice - starting the moment your patient walks through your door.
Laura starts with the basics, including categorising different personality types so you know how to assist a variety of patients using a personal approach. She then goes on to cover the many systems a practice should have in place, such as smile questionnaires, call logs and conversion tables. This course will give you the basic tools to turn a normal dental practice into a high-end profitable practice with high patient standards. It also gives you the tools to build up great relationships with your patients. I really enjoyed every aspect of this course; Laura is an inspiring person and the course is very interesting. The skills you will learn can be introduced to your practice immediately, and it’s very rewarding to see the impact of the course in a short space of time.
Overall, my favourite courses were Laura Horton’s Treatment Coordination course and the PTLLS course, as they were both rewarding and motivating courses, the content of which can be implemented with a personal touch. The least enjoyable courses for me were Impression-taking and NEBDN Radiography. Impression-taking was very easy, and I do enjoy a challenge; however, it is a qualification that can be achieved in a short amount of time, which is always a bonus. With regard to Radiography, although I do recommend that dental nurses consider this as a must in their careers, it is a long-winded course that requires a lot of studying in order to pass your examination. However, do remember that hard work pays off, and the more skilled you are the more employable you are in the long run.