What is a dental nurse?
I wanted to do a little post about, well, me! And my other dental nurse colleagues of course! Our job looks relatively easy when you’re sat in the dental chair; we put that annoying mini hoover into your mouth to keep you comfortable, and pass stuff to the dentist, right? Wrong! We do so much more!
We have to train for anything from 12 months to 2 years to become a dental nurse (depending on the course), and you have to pass a written and practical exam, as well as many hours of observations in surgery before you get your certificates.
When you look us up in the dictionary, it says ‘a person whose job is to assist a dentist in the treatment of patients’, which is very true. We help out during treatment so that the dentist can readily and easily complete treatment on a patient. But you won’t believe what we do behind the scenes.
So, what else do we do?
The better question would be, what else don’t we do?! To go through a typical morning for instance, we would open up the practice, set up the surgery (which includes flushing through the water lines, wiping down all the chairs and surfaces, checking the x-ray head for issues, getting all the instruments for the days treatments from the stock room, setting up for the first patient, ensuring we have enough stock in the cupboards, get out the dentists bur stand, glasses, gloves, making sure we have filled out all the relevant log books and getting any others ready for throughout the day), check all lab work is back for the day, set up the decon room which includes doing daily tests on the autoclave (our steriliser), getting out all the needed drying equipment and setting up bags to put all the clean instruments into. We open all the fire exits, turn on the compressor, put the sign outside so people can see us and then we also need to check the emergency drugs and equipment and log that everything is working and in date.
Phew! And that’s every morning.
In addition to this, we also have to set up each specific treatment tray for each patient who walks through the surgery doors, so that we are ready to go when you sit in the chair.
In between patients, we clean, inspect, sterilise and bag every piece of equipment and tool that is used. These then have to go back into the stock room for storage. We also have to pretty much do the morning set up routine before each new patient so that the surgery is clean and sterile, as to prevent cross infection. We also have to be with the dentist during treatment at all times and make sure we have everything that’s needed for the treatment being carried out. We like to stay in the room if we can; saves taking our gloves and masks off to go and fetch things!
And then at the end of the day, we do it all in reverse! Clean, sterilise, inspect all instruments, bag them, clean the decon room, clean down the surgery, lock up and go home!
In addition to these daily checks, tasks and nursing, most of us have additional duties. I, for instance, do the marketing for the practice, I can push the button to take an x-ray and I can apply topical fluoride to teeth. Terri is our lead decon nurse, so she makes sure we are sterilising and storing everything properly, she’s a sedation nurse, and she can take dental x-rays. She also works with Amy to make sure our UcLan Implant Course days run without a hitch. Amy is our practice co-ordinator, so she tells us all what to do, and where we should be at what time. She is also a sedation nurse can take x-rays, can train us in all sorts of dental related stuff, knows everything there is to know about practice policies, and generally keeps the cogs turning at the practice. She’s also the VSS Academy Mentoring Manager, so she keeps an eye on all the delegates who are on our UcLan course. Dawnie is the face of the practice and is our patient co-ordinator… she deals with the diaries, ordering, patient management, labs, Denplan… there’s nothing Dawn can’t do. She’s like the practice oracle! If you want something doing, ask Dawnie. And Sonia looks after the practice audits, to make sure we are doing and noting down everything we should be. We’re also all trained in basic life support should anyone need it.
So there you have it. You don’t know we do half of this, as it goes on in the background, but there’s a lot that goes into a successfully run dental practice!
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please do not hesitate to call us on 0121 550 6958.
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