Tell me about your career as a dental nurse?
From an early age I have always enjoyed looking after people and knew that I wanted to start my career within a caring profession. On leaving school at the age of 16, I took up a role as a trainee Dental Nurse, staying with my first practice for approximately 12 years. My Dentist put me through my registration and I studied for my National Examination For Dental Nurses, before developing my skills and knowledge within the dental industry and working both as the Receptionist and a Dental Nurse in the same practice.
It wasn’t long before I became Head Receptionist, but after a couple of years I decided that I wanted to focus more on Dental Nursing so I moved to a new practice to my progress my career as both Head Nurse and an Oral Health Promoter. I then continued to develop my skills and studied for my National Oral Health Promoter and Dental Radiography.
I personally believe that providing an Oral Health Promoter is a huge role that all dental practices should push for dental nurses to study and practice. Why? Well quite simply because everyone is a winner, you, the practice and the patient. My role here also saw me hold workshops for patients and their children on topics such as OHI and diet.
Following this, I moved once again to a practice which had a fully equipped theatre for general anesthetics, working alongside an oral surgeon who carried out sinus lifts and implants. It was great to be part of the theatre environment and I gained lots of experience on being a theatre nurse.
My final move in practice was to continue to move up the career ladder where I became a Practice Manager for a referral specialist clinic. Working here involved managing a team of 12, promoting the practice as a referral practice and analysing referrals to keep track that patients were being looked after at every stage of their referral. Managing the financial aspect of the practice was an imperative duty too and this ranged from taking care of the clinicians salary to keeping material costs down and making sure we were never going over budget.
I consider myself a very committed person and think this is reflected in the fact that in my 19 years of practicing I have only worked in 4 dental practices.
What did you enjoy most about dental nursing?
The most enjoyable aspect of dental nursing is by far the caring side of things; looking after people and helping them when they are in need. Working in a close team was also an important part of the Dental Nurse’s role. Every day was different and you would be faced with different challenges. However, a big perk of the job was definitely nursing for ‘very famous’ footballers!
What did you enjoy least?
There were many days when we would go without a break. We all like a cuppa’ and I’ve learnt that taking a well-earned break can in fact increase your work ethic and motivation.
So you are no longer a dental nurse, what do you do now?
Today, I work for Ivoclar Vivadent, a leading International company who manufacture dental materials for Clinicians and Technicians alike at our headquarters in Liechtenstein. These products are then shipped to 120 countries worldwide to dental dealers who then sell our materials into your practices. In addition to this, Ivoclar Vivadent provide training centers worldwide, including at the UK’s ICDE in Leicester, offering a high level of technical knowledge and skill relating to Ivoclar Vivadent products and systems.
How did this come about?
I first joined Ivoclar Vivadent as a Product Specialist in 2006. I remember liaising with the Product Specialists when they came into the practices I worked in, and even though I was managing a really busy practice I always knew I wanted more and to take my career further. Unfortunately, there was nowhere else for me to go in general practice so I had a few chats with some Product Specialists that I knew and here I am now!
Did you have a lot of support when making this change?
Yes, especially from the practice I was working in. They knew I wanted to progress my career and fully backed me. If ever you find yourself in a similar situation and feel that you would like a new challenge, I highly recommend speaking to your manager and I am sure they will help you.
What dental nurse skills do you think you transferred to your new role?
Having a Dental Nurse background really helped me to develop my new role as a Product Specialist. When I used to call in and try to see the Dentists, Nurses and/or Receptionists, they would often tell me they were “really, really busy” and I completely understood as I had worked in practice and found myself in a similar situation on numerous occasions. Many of my colleagues felt that this was just an excuse for dentists not to see Product Specialists but from working in practice I knew this wasn’t true, so I felt I could empathise with the staff. I also believe that from a Dentist’s point of view, talking to a Product Specialist with a Dental Nurse’s background means that you can talk in dental terminology, I understood what they needed and why they needed it.
What is your role now?
In December 2011 I was promoted to Senior Product Specialist and in exceeding this role was soon tasked with managing a team of Product Specialists in the London region. More recently, I have been promoted to National Hospital and Corporate Business Consultant. This means I now coordinate all activity within Universities, Dental Schools and Corporate accounts in the UK and Ireland, providing unique bespoke solutions and managing their individual needs. If they require anything regarding education I arrange for the education team to conduct this, or if they necessitate products I send the technical or clinical Product Specialists in to perform lunch and learns and demonstrations.
Do you miss being a Dental Nurse?
I do sometimes but I really enjoy working for an International company and I get the opportunity to travel all over Europe. It was such a huge career step and has given me a bigger ladder to climb. Working with a large company is a totally different career; there are just so many different ways you can progress.
When you work in a practice it is one place but working for Ivoclar Vivadent means that no day is the same and you are always somewhere different, meeting different people and experiencing new things. Yes you do have to put a lot of hours in and it is hard work but it is very rewarding. This week alone I have been for meetings in Glasgow, Manchester and Dublin.
What advice would you give to Dental Nurses who might want to follow in your direction?
Speak to the Product Specialists that come into your practice, it is really worth building a relationship with them. They are the ones that will know about available jobs if required. It is hard to get into the industry because ideally they want you to have a sales background. But if you are intelligent, hardworking and always willing to learn you may have a chance. When you join a company you will be trained fully on sales techniques and the scientific background behind the products, as well as being regularly educated and kept up-to-date on product developments. This is vital, as you are the one that needs to inform the Dentist of the latest technology.
Working for an International company is a very different lifestyle to being in a practice but the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. If you have a dream of pursuing your career in dentistry, don’t just sit there… go for it!
I wish you all the best in practice or out on the road as a Product Specialist, and if I can be of any help please do not hesitate to contact me.
Twitter - @IvoclarAmanda