Let’s get motivated!

It is a new year and time to get the new you motivated to achieve all those career and life goals that may have fallen by the wayside in the gloom of last year’s economic climate. As we consider our new year resolutions, let’s ensure our profession is one of our priorities and that we are all truly motivated towards a common goal to further our careers, pursue our studies and involve ourselves in our association.

Motivation is a desire to achieve a goal, combined with the energy to work towards that goal. Dental nurses who are motivated have a desire to undertake their work or study, and energy and enthusiasm in completion of their job/course.

Being motivated as a dental nurse doesn’t mean you are always excited or fully committed to your work or study, but it does mean you will complete tasks set for you even when they are difficult or, at times, seem uninteresting.

Feeling good about yourself and recognising your achievements may be a key factor in helping you to find motivation. When we have a sense of well-being and self-esteem, we can tackle difficult or uninteresting tasks with a positive outlook. Try to collect positive attributes about yourself. This can be a difficult task, as we all find compliments hard to receive at times, but you could ask a friend or close family member about positive aspects they recognise in you.

Look after your health
Physical well-being is an important part of finding motivational energy, so assess your level of health. Changing eating and exercise patterns is not easy but small, consistent changes are more effective than extreme changes to lifestyles. Different ways of eating and different ways of including exercise suit different people at different times. Experiment with what exercise suits you best – you might find that you look forward to a weekly basketball game, or badminton or yoga classes in the evenings, or maybe walking at a time that suits you. Whatever you choose, get up, energised and motivated!

Visualising a situation in context, where you have successfully achieved your goal, is an effective motivational force. If you are able to visualise positive situations in your head, then you have an image that you can use to visualise yourself motivated and successful in the year ahead. Top athletes have been known to use this technique to visualise themselves winning a race and being first over the finish line.

Keep motivated
At some stage in our careers we can all experience loss of motivation in what we are doing, as if it is a lost object we cannot find. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, anger or depression. Loss of motivation can happen through accumulated changes (which a lot of us have had in the last year) or a negative experience at work. But just like searching for a lost object, in that search we can relocate our motivation. The search will involve an element of focusing on how important our goals are to us and the changes that will be required in our behaviour to achieve them; give yourself some quality time to focus on your goals. Ensure you set realistic short-term and long-term career and life goals that are important to you.

I wish you all a happy and motivated New Year – keep moving forward.



Name: Angela Connolly
Age: 28               
Location: Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Dental qualifications
2005: National Certificate in Dental Nursing (Merit) with Dublin Dental School & Hospital
2007: Dental Nurses National Certificate Course in Conscious Sedation with the Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry (SAAD) (NEBDN)
2009: Specialist Certificate in Oral Health Promotion with the Department of Health Promotion, Marino Institute, Griffith Avenue (NUI Galway) 

LD: What motivates you every day as a dental nurse?
AC: The main motivation for me is the satisfaction I receive in providing dental care to each patient to the best of my ability; to ensure they are informed fully for each treatment and that they are confident and comfortable in our practice. Also, to see a patient who is anxious overcome their fear and start to enjoy their treatment is one of the best feelings a dental team member can have. Every day I strive to be the best dental nurse that I can be for the benefit of our patients.

LD: How has your career progressed since you qualified?
AC: I started dental nursing in November 2003, without any prior experience, in a general practice. During my time there I gained valuable experience in general dentistry, RCT, prosthetics, oral hygiene and orthodontics. I completed the National Certificate in Dental Nursing in 2005 at Dublin Dental Hospital. I found this course extremely informative and I feel that working while studying certainly helped, as I brought new aspects of dental nursing to our practice and I could seek advice from each dental member.

My main duties consisted of assisting the principal dentist, but I also gained valuable experience from the orthodontic practice upstairs, as well as the hygienist, which I feel gave me confidence to continue on and progress in dental nursing.

LD: Tell us about your current job and your role.
AC: I am currently employed in Hermitage Dental, which is based in the Hermitage Medical Clinic near Lucan. My principal dentist is Dr Edward Cotter (a prosthodontist). We have two prosthodontists, two paediatric dentists, three periodontists and one oral surgeon. We offer dental treatment with local anaesthesia, both with and without intravenous sedation, inhalation sedation and general anaesthesia.

I am involved in a variety of different dental procedures. The majority of it is carried out in our suite, however we do use the theatre facilities of the hospital, which can be very interesting through interaction with many medical specialties.

My main role is to assist the dentists during treatment, to ensure they have all the materials and instruments needed for each case. In oral surgery a sterile environment is required and my role consists of providing all instruments in a sterile condition in order to prevent cross infection and, therefore, minimise the incidence of post-operative complications.

Stock control is another daily duty that is important, as stock levels need to be monitored. This duty is becoming a more important part of the dental nurse role and in these recessionary times it is essential for the nurse to have a good relationship with the practice’s suppliers. At present, I find ordering by email most effective.

I also assist our medical secretary in clerical duties, and having a good knowledge of dental terminology helps in letter dictation.

LD: You did a postgraduate course in oral health education. What did this involve?
AC: I completed the oral health promotion course in order to gain more confidence in this area. As our practice offers such diverse treatments, I felt it would benefit me personally, as well as our practice.

The course consisted of three modules, each of which was informative and interesting:
1. The Concepts and Principles of Health Promotion module provided information about health promotion as a whole. It taught us the basic principles of health, including how people perceive health and well-being, plus how health promotion evolved through the World Health Organization. I found this module difficult at first as I had not been involved in that area of health before
2. The Oral Health module 1 – Causes of Ill Health – was much better for me and the other students, as it was more familiar given our backgrounds. We learned about oral diseases, contributing factors that affect oral health, diet, fluoride and many more topics 
3. Oral Health module 2 – Oral Health Promotion – focused on policies and strategies for developing oral health promotion in Ireland. It included social determinants of health like ‘general socioeconomic, cultural and environmental conditions’. This module helped to tie together all aspects of oral health promotion.

Course requirements:
1. During each module, group work was carried out to enable us to share our knowledge and experience. During these sessions we did presentations and took part in debates. They were excellently done and provided each of us with skills in research and public speaking
2. Essay assignments at the end of each module
3. An oral health promotion programme taught me how to incorporate the skills and knowledge I had learned into a programme that could be used in specialist dental practices every day.

LD: What are your future plans for your career?
AC: Eventually I would like to be a practice manager. I have gained a lot of skills and experience in my six years of dental nursing and I feel that I would have a lot to offer in the day-to-day running of a practice. Before I started dental nursing I completed many courses, including business studies with accounting, a sales and selling course, and a starting and succeeding self-employment course.

Right now I am more than happy as a dental nurse and keeping our patients happy is my number one priority. When the time is right and I have completed some more courses, I will pursue a practice management position.

LD: Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for dental nurses is very important in keeping nurses skills up to date and in motivating them in their careers. What do you feel are the greatest barriers to dental nurses in accessing CPD?
AC: Personally, I like going on these course and I have attended as many as possible. Unfortunately, they do tend to be along the same lines, for example infection control. I do understand how important this is, but some variety would entice nurses to attend. A topic that would be of interest to their career in dentistry could be oral surgery. I enjoy working with our oral surgeon and it certainly opened my mind to risks and problems that many nurses may not be aware of.

Oral hygiene is a major factor in dentistry; it is carried out daily but commonly overlooked. This would be a good skill to learn and understand that could potentially lead to enrolling in a further education course.

Online CPD may be a good way forward, providing nurses have access. If documents/ course booklets were provided, they would be good to bring back to the practice to show others who were unable to attend.

As for cost, I understand that in these economic times it’s difficult for nurses to attend courses, but maybe the dentists could encourage the nurses to go and help pay towards the fees. At €100 per course it is a little steep, but if you take in and can bring back new concepts to your practice, then it is money well spent! The locations are usually accessible but maybe video-conferencing for some remote areas might entice more nurses to attend.

Early notice about meetings and lecturing facilitates attendance. If advance notice is given, it also allows for nurses to inform others and prepare for the cost, and then attendance will be improved.   

I understand nurses with children may find it more difficult to attend these CPD days but, with a child of my own, I know it is possible with a little organisation. I feel that if you really want to attend these day courses, then there should be no major boundaries – it comes down to motivation.



Name: David Casey
Age: 22               
Location: Dublin

Dental qualifications
2009: RDN – National Certificate in Dental Nursing (NEDBN), Marino College FE, North Strand
2009/2010: Specialist Certificate in Oral Health Promotion with the Department of Health Promotion, Marino Institute, Griffith Avenue (NUI Galway)

LD: What motivated you to choose dental nursing as a career?
DC: After studying science for two years, I found it wasn’t for me. I always had an interest in the dental area, and I saw the course at Marino College of Further Education and went for an interview. I loved the fact that dental nursing was a branch [stepping stone] to lots of careers in the dental area such as hygiene, orthodontic therapist, oral health educator, etc. My career plan has changed so much over the two years!

LD:What year did you qualify and from where?
DC: I qualified from the Marino College of Further Education in May 2009, after completing a two-year full-time course in the National Certificate in Dental Nursing. As well as the National Certificate, this course incorporated FETAC Level 5 modules/certificates  in first aid, anatomy and physiology, health and safety, and word processing, in which I achieved distinctions.

LD: How has your career progressed since you have qualified as a dental nurse?
DC: I travelled to Budapest in 2009 for work experience as part of my Marino College FE course, where I worked with one of the biggest Hungarian dental companies in Europe. I was involved in all types of oral surgery procedures with them while there, such as sinus lifts, implants and bone grafting, as well as consultations and delivering complex treatment plans. On my return from Budapest, I had the responsibility of delivering oral hygiene instruction to patients post-treatment. I also had the responsibility of designing an oral health aftercare follow-up system for the clinic.

I then took a position in a new practice, where I have trained with Zoom and Beyond, holding certificates in both of these whitening systems. I am currently doing my Specialist Certificate in Oral Health Promotion at the Marino Institute on Griffith Avenue and working as a practice manger in MYTEETH Dental Spa off Grafton Street, where I look after all whitening procedures, as well as management of all dental patients and the day-to-day running of surgeries.

I have been asked to do talks on oral health in schools around the country. I also hope to travel on an aid project to Chernobyl in March 2010.

LD: What keeps you motivated in your career and what factors do you think could lead to a dental nurse becoming unmotivated?
DC: What keeps me going is my internal drive. I enjoy being busy with college, work, assignments, talks and other projects! I love to keep going and staying active, or else I get bored very easily. I thrive on a challenge and that’s what keeps me going.
A dental nurse may lose motivation in their career if their ideas are not given consideration or they are not encouraged to further their studies.

LD:What are your short-term plans for this year?
DC: This year I will definitely be kept busy with my oral health course, as well as a trip to Chernobyl as part of an aid mission and organising fundraising campaigns for the Chernobyl Children’s Trust. I became involved with this charity during my time at Marino College FE.
Also, my job is one of my main focuses this year, and I have a lot of exciting and new ideas for the practice. Working in an environment that is so receptive to new ideas allows me to contribute to an increase in the practice’s profitability and patient comfort and service, which really helps me to stay motivated.

LD: Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
DC: I hope to acquire a job in the area of oral health promotion. I am keen to undertake a postgraduate certificate in orthodontic therapy in Belfast, as well as a postgraduate certificate in dental sedation as I find the area of oral surgery and management of dental anxiety very interesting. My final goal is, one day, to teach in a training centre.

LD: Continuing professional development (CPD) for dental nurses is very important in updating their skills and in motivating them in their careers. What do you feel are the greatest barriers to dental nurses in accessing CPD?
DC: I feel that cost can be a key factor in being unable to attend the CPD days. As a full-time employee this may not have been a problem for me, as I would have had a wage, or my employer may have contributed to me updating or gaining new skills. However, as a student I found that €100 for a full-day CPD of was sometimes hard to come by, and I would have loved to have been able to attend more of these days.

I felt the locations were accessible, although a video link to the training colleges – Dublin Dental Hospital and Marino College FE – would have been helpful, where students could have paid a student fee for access to the lecture link.

I would also like to see a greater link between all training centres in providing continuing professional development to all dental nurses.

Although the CPD days are advertised on the IDNA (Irish Dental Nurses Association) website, a flyer included in the Promed catalogue (the IDNA sponsor of CPD days) at least two months before the date would be helpful. This would also allow the information to be seen by non-members of the Association, giving these dental nurses the opportunity to become involved in their own association, learn new skills and meet up with their peers.

I hope dental nurses continue to support their association, the IDNA, this year, which works so hard on a voluntary basis on their behalf.

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