Meeting professional challenges head-on

A good qualified and registered dental nurse can rest assured that his or her future is secure in Ireland. Whether you work for the Health Board or in the public or private sectors, your skills are required.

It doesn’t stop there, because you can travel anywhere in the world with your skills and qualifications and dentists will require your expertise.

If you are an unqualified dental nurse working in the field, my advice to you is to go back to college, either by day or by night, and work for a qualification that shows your dedication to your profession.  If the night-time course suits you best, its one night a week for a year/18 months. The full-time day course is taught over a period of two years. It is a qualification worth having if you plan to stay in the profession long-term.

Another thing that ought to be considered by the qualified dental nurse is the importance of registering with the Dental Council of Ireland. Soon this will be a statutory register and qualified dental nurses working in Ireland will be expected to log their details with the Council.

We live in uncertain times, so why not back up your beliefs in your profession and achieve the qualification that will allow you to stand up and be counted?

Not only do dentists require a dental nurse to assist them in their working day, but the patients need us, too. We are the people they turn to; the front line. We can make all the difference as to whether a patient stays with our practice or chooses to leave. We meet them, we greet them, we talk with them on the phone. We explain the treatments, we often explain the costs involved and we very often are the people that call the patient after difficult extractions, surgical or non-surgical treatments and check how they are. On top of all that, we are often the first in line when receiving complaints, dealing with them head-on and, in doing so, often diffusing a tricky situation.

We are skilled people. We work in close contact with our employers for eight or 10 hours a day. We talk, sympathise, empathise and connect with people from all walks of life, and hope to make their day a little better. We know when to step in and when to step up.

When the going gets tough…

We only have to look around, read the paper, listen to the radio or watch the television to hear bad news about our economy. Banks, investments, pensions and the housing market have all been hit. But still, each day, we can manage a smile as we greet our patients and make use of our skills to make their day a little easier.

We ought to be proud of ourselves for choosing a profession in the dental field, where people work together for the good of the patient. It is here that team spirit is at its best, and here that we can help to make a difference, even if it is just a sympathetic ear. We don’t have to be psychologists or analysts to know that people who are experiencing negative financial changes, and who attend the dental surgery in the midst of these life challenges, ought to be greeted, and spoken to, by a willing, helpful and pleasant dental nurse.

We have no real idea of the impact that a little friendly smile, a pat on the shoulder or a squeeze of an arm can have on a patient dealing with financial worries/unemployment trying to get through their day. But we ought to have some insight, because a recession leaves no stone unturned. Each of us is affected in some shape or form, whether directly or via our extended family and friends. I think it is important that we, as members of the healthcare profession, go out there with a brighter and better attitude, knowing that our services are of great value to both the dentist and the patient alike.

As a dental nurse, stand up and be proud of your profession. A qualified, registered dental nurse can show the way forward in an uncertain world. We have a head start. We have a career. Let us go forth and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves to us.

All information required to apply for the National Dental Nurse training programme of Ireland and/or registering with the Dental Council can be obtained from the Irish Dental Nurses’ Association website at, along with other relevant dental nursing information and an up-to-date employment section.

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