‘Treated like a number, not a person’ – dental nurse calls for compassionate approach to CPD

'Treated like a number, not a person' – dental nurse calls for compassionate approach to CPD

‘The looming uncertainty created immense stress for me’ – we hear from a dental nurse who explains why they believe a more streamlined and compassionate approach is needed when it comes to CPD deadlines. 

In 1999, I entered the field of dentistry. Initially trained in art, my journey shifted when my sister, a dental technician, suggested exploring dental technology. However, I preferred the idea of dental nursing, so I pursued the national certificate, qualifying in 1999. First working for a dentist in Chesterfield, I now work in Sheffield and have 23 years of experience in dentistry.

Over the years, I’ve always complied with the GDC’s continuing professional development (CPD) requirements, which evolved from 150 hours (100 non verifiable and 50 verifiable) to just the 50 verifiable hours over the five year cycle. However, I was unaware of the new mandate—10 hours over two consecutive years. I got caught out on this and I fell short by two hours, despite surpassing the total requirement of 50 over five years.

I was very confused when emails came in urging me to log my CPD logging, as I thought I’d done it. I contacted the GDC to discover the overlooked two-hour deficit over the consecutive years. Despite having exceeded the total hours, the GDC disregarded my previous CPD, sparking a frustrating back-and-forth.

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Looming uncertainty

A notice then arrived, signalling potential removal from the register. Prompted to appeal, I faced a deadline and engaged a supportive advocate, a dentist from the practice I work at. For me, I had a good outcome in that I managed to find some certificates to make up the hours. But it shouldn’t have got to that.

Amidst all of this, l had worked through a pandemic, where my son was diagnosed with learning difficulties, and I had responsibilities for an elderly relative. I’m not looking to make an excuse – it just doesn’t feel like you’re treated as a person, but rather a number.

The appeal was initiated in November 2022 and remained unresolved until July last year. Despite the ongoing appeal, I could continue working, but the looming uncertainty created immense stress for me. I was made to feel really terrible when I hadn’t really done anything wrong.

Broader issue

The GDC says it has a duty of care to patients. But if we can’t provide the treatment and the care that patients need because we’ve got no staff, then it’s not actually providing duty of care to patients. It just doesn’t make sense.

Beyond personal grievances, the lack of empathy in communication also highlights a need for a more streamlined and compassionate approach. For example, I personally think it’d be helpful to simplify CPD requirements to a flat minimum of 10 hours per year, which encourages professional development without undue stress.

My story mirrors a broader issue within the dental community, where administrative oversights result in severe consequences for dedicated professionals. It would be great to have a more understanding and efficient regulatory framework—one that prioritises both patient care and the wellbeing of dental professionals.

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