How to attract and retain dental nurses

How to retain and train dental nurses

As part of our new Future of Dentistry campaign, head dental nurse Hayley O’Neill shares her top tips for retaining dental nurses in an unprecedented climate. 

When thinking about the future of dentistry, two of the most pressing questions are how we can retain qualified dental nurses at a time when they are leaving the industry faster than ever before, and how we can attract and keep trainee nurses.

Look no further because my top tips are below:

Tip one – nail the onboarding process

Be crystal clear in their interview. What is expected of them, what will their job entail, when will they start their course, what support will they get?

If you breeze through an interview without giving enough information, then you will lose trust right from the start. Training should also be planned thoroughly in advance so that your trainees feel confident with their role, their mentor and what support is in place.

This will all manage the initial overwhelm which is all too common.

Tip two – offer a competitive salary

Many practices have caught on to the fact that they need to start paying their nurses fairly which is the start of a long-awaited change, but we still have a long way to go. If you don’t offer a fair salary, you will lose your nurses!

Tip three – perks package

A perks package is another way to attract and keep nurses who are looking for their perfect practice to stay loyal to. Whether you offer paid fees, paid CPD, friends and family discounts, milestone rewards or maternity packages is up to you. But it goes a very long way to encourage your staff to stay put.

There are perks which will fit into a big or small budget. Even a £15 voucher for a ‘Nurse of the Month’, a paid team lunch or an extra days annual leave per five years’ service can be a perk.

Tip four – encourage growth

Dental nursing should be thought of as a career in itself, but it’s becoming more common for nurses to seek other avenues to help them achieve professional growth.

Helping your nurses evolve by encouraging them to enhance their skills and further their education is essential if you want to help your nurses feel satisfied.

Help them identify areas of professional growth which would benefit them and the practice to make them feel as beneficial to the team as possible.

Tip five – recognition and feedback

Many practices are moving away from the idea that an annual appraisal is enough and are exchanging them for more regular feedback opportunities.

This is a great change as frequent one-on-one time is much more effective at making nurses feel valued than a larger interval.

Tip six – bring the team together

Encouraging nurses and the rest of the dental team to feel like part of the team is really important.

This includes taking time to introduce and integrate new staff members, staying united by having a team goal, engaging in team activities, and finally having a toolbox of ways to manage team conflict.

Tip seven – exit interviews

Sadly, you will occasionally lose a dental nurse and, if you do, the best thing to do is take the time to fully understand their reasons for leaving. Exit interviews are a valuable process as they will allow you to address anything which may cause history to repeat itself.

Make notes, analyse the situation, and dust yourself off ready to advertise for a new nurse. Don’t forget to nail the onboarding!

Keen to get involved in our Future of Dentistry campaign? We are looking for contributors! Email [email protected] to get involved.

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