Tricks and Tips from a TCO – transitioning from dental nurse to TCO

In her latest article, Tracie Barnett considers why becoming a treatment coordinator could be a good step for dental nurses. 

Recent studies show that many dental nurses are leaving the profession.

Feedback shows this is due to feeling unappreciated, overworked and under paid, the ‘high’ retention fee and the added stress of having to complete CPD hours. Around 39% of dental nurses are considering quitting.

So, what’s next for our trained, qualified dental nurses?

Becoming a TCO is a step up the ladder that keeps you in dentistry – the profession you once loved!

The role of the treatment coordinator is becoming ever more popular and a great steppingstone in the profession, being an experienced DCP will benefit you as you step into this new role.

Your dental knowledge and passion for patient care means you already have the skills to become an amazing TCO.

Practice principles are realising the benefits of introducing a TCO into their practice. Part of the initial task of incorporating the new role is finding a suitable candidate. Often the best candidate is already a member of the team.

What the principles don’t realise is that there is often an unhappy dental nurse in the team that’s ready for a new challenge.

Sound good? Read on.

Why should you become a TCO?

Career progression

Lots of dental nurses feel like they are stuck in a rut but have no idea what they would like to do next. But if you have achieved all you can in your current position, the only way is up, right?

If your current role no longer offers any challenges or room for improvement, chances are you’ll start to disengage after a while. Workers who feel challenged in their jobs tend to be more engaged overall.

Career progression will open up new challenges and this will stimulate your brain and strengthen your skills in a variety of different areas. We all like comfort and routine, however getting too comfortable in your role can leave you at a loss for where to go next.

Once trained as a TCO, further qualifications are available to become a ‘qualified TCO’. This reassures you, your practice, and your patients that what you are telling them is backed up by a recognised qualification.

Job satisfaction

Being able to connect with your patients and look after them throughout their journey is a great feeling. They almost become friends that trust you.

Connecting with them emotionally means you genuinely want to help them. They look at you as a friendly, supporting member of the team. Seeing how improving smiles can change lives for your patients, just by helping them make informed decisions, is pretty special.

Supporting your team makes for a happier working environment. You can take the pressure away from reception and the clinicians so everyone’s day is running more smoothly and less stressful.

More responsibility

As a TCO you are responsible for offering an amazing experience to your patient, you will offer support to your clinicians and reception staff too, making sure the patient journey runs as smoothly as possible.

You will be the first point of contact for your patients at the initial enquiry stage, carry out complimentary consultations before the patient commits to seeing a dentist, and offer consultations to existing patients too. This free’s up the clinicians time so that they can concentrate on the clinical side of things.

If you’re GDC registered, trained, competent and indemnified, you may be asked to take clinical photos or digital scans of patients.

You will also have some admin duties, following up with patients after their consultations, chasing up open courses of treatment, and you may become responsible for the social media for your practice. The role differs depending on the practice – no two days are the same!

Pay increase

They say that money makes the world go round.

In most cases, becoming a TCO involves a pay rise, usually due to the increased responsibility. Some practices offer an incentive bonus scheme, this is often target based and a great incentive to keep you motivated.

And with career progression comes greater financial freedom. No one wants to live month to month, and as your development brings that inevitable boost for your salary, it means not only hitting career milestones but life milestones too.

How do I make the switch?

If you’re looking for a change in direction, the first step is to have a conversation with your practice manager or principle. It might just be that they are on the same page and see you as a dedicated TCO for your practice.

Becoming a TCO gave me much more confidence and opened up so many doors for me, including becoming a speaker for Align.

This could be you too!

Read more by Tracie Barnett:

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