What was your route into dental nursing?
I grew up in Hungary, where I was trained in Biology.
I had ambitions of being a teacher, and came across to England seven years ago. I didn’t know the language or the culture, so at first it was hard, but I got my teacher training qualification and became a supply teacher.
I found it very tough, and I quickly realised I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know the school system and the culture was different, so I decided to make a change in my career. I worked in catering briefly, but I had always been attracted to dentistry. I have friends who work in it, and I just thought – why not?
From the beginning I knew I wanted to be a hygienist. I like being independent and working alone, and I was attracted to the responsibility that comes with it.
What qualifications have you completed, and how have they helped to develop your career?
Well, firstly I’ve done lots of CPD, mainly with Kings College. But the most interesting (and hardest) part was training as a hygienist, which I did in Hungary.
During my training, I worked each week for four days as a dental nurse and one day as a volunteer, to gain experience. At weekends I would fly back to Hungary, where I had courses or exams almost every weekend. It was a hectic time in my life, but I really enjoyed it! It took a year and a half, and then another year and a half to get my GDC registration.
What do you love about being a hygienist?
I love the fact that I work in different practices all the time, so I have to be very independent and I have a lot of flexibility and freedom.
I also see a lot of parallels between being a hygienist and being a teacher. Much of my time is taken up teaching people correct brushing techniques or oral hygiene, so I’m glad that teaching is still in my life.
What frustrates you about it?
Although I love being independent, I often feel like hygienists could benefit from having a dental nurse on hand. Some patients are hard to deal with because they’re scared or anxious, for example, and in those cases it feels like you need six pairs of hands!
I think patient care could be improved if we could cut the time we have to spend on administration and were able to concentrate entirely on the patients. Perhaps we could have more time per patient, or a nurse who could help.
How do you see nursing change in the future?
I hope it’s going to change! Nurses do so much to maintain surgeries and are vital to their smooth running. Yet often the salaries don’t reflect that, and I think that needs to change.
Nurses can do more now thanks to the GDC and the amount of additional training available to us, but we haven’t seen this reflected in pay. When that does happen I think nurses will get more of the recognition they deserve.
What advice would you give to a young dental nurse starting out today?
I think young nurses could benefit from guidance or a mentor to open their eyes to how far they can go in dentistry. It can be intimidating because there are so many different routes you can take, but with a little help or advice you can go a long way.
Apart from that, you should try to develop yourself all of the time. Constantly update your knowledge, and set real goals for yourself. If you’re always moving forward you will never be stuck in the same position.