Addressing stress and pressure in dental nursing

Gemma Forsythe speaks to Haley O'Neill about the problems in dental nursing

From burnout to staff-shortages, this month Gemma Forsythe highlights the daily struggles of dental nurses and typical symptoms of stress.

Dentistry is a high pressure and (sometimes) stressful sector to work in. For dental nurses, a lot of us feel under pressure, under-appreciated and burnt out at work, whether this is due to being short-staffed, the fast-paced work environment or poor management. There is no doubt that stress is a contributing factor to losing dental nurses.

It is well known that dental nurse retention in the UK is proving more and more difficult, with nurses leaving the profession feeling overworked, underpaid and feeling that the responsibilities they face daily are not reflected in the wages they are earning.

Looking after dental nurses’ wellbeing is so important for dental practices. It’s essential in ensuring you keep your staff working for you and can even reduce sickness due to burnout or mental health problems inflicted by work.

Stress symptoms

Some common emotional/mental symptoms of work-related stress are:

  • Finding it hard to focus
  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Feeling more emotional than normal – you may be more sensitive or tearful
  • Feeling more irritable or having a short temper
  • Feeling overwhelmed or finding it hard to switch off.

You may also get some physical symptoms too which can include:

  • Feeling lethargic
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Muscle aches/pains
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Gaining/losing weight
  • Chest pains or chest tightness.

The Molar Mindset

The Molar Mindset is a fantastic initiative, created by dental nurses for dental nurses just over one year ago. This means that they directly understand the difficulties we face in practice and are best placed to provide some support when needed. It is a not-for-profit platform founded by Marisa Russell and Heidi Grimwood of Molar Mentoring.

Over the years, Marisa has learned healthy coping techniques and ways of looking after her own wellbeing. She wants to share that with other nurses by talking about her personal experiences and guiding them towards all the resources that are available.

The Molar Mindset is very keen to encourage those who are passionate about their wellbeing to train to become ‘workplace health and wellbeing champions’. They can be the first port of call for others who may need support and signposting to relevant services and resources.

That’s why, for this month’s Nursing Matters, I wanted to draw your attention to this opportunity for dental nurses to better themselves. I am passionate about promoting opportunities and experiences for dental nurses to do more and move forward in their careers.

I asked Marisa for some more information to feature in the column which you can read below…

Promoting wellbeing in the workplace

‘Exclusively for dental nurses, we are primarily a listening and signposting service for those in need of support. We also have a selection of free resources available, including guided hypnotherapy and a mini-mindfulness course. Dental nurses reach out to us regularly for guidance and support on a range of matters (not purely work related either). We are also starting to see some return to us, building valuable relationships and trust in the dental nursing community.

‘One of our aims has always been to place health and wellbeing champions in the workplace – dental nurses who can be the first port of call for someone who needs support and guide them to getting the right help. With the recruitment of our Molar Mindset ambassadors all over the country, we are taking the initial steps to make this aim a reality.

‘Our Molar Mindset ambassadors have been chosen for their dedication to improving the health and wellbeing of all dental nurses. In May, they will commence the NCFE CACHE Level 2 Diploma in mental health awareness as part of their training with us. In charge of their local area, they can then guide others to be a part of the initiative and undertake the training to become their practice’s health and wellbeing champion, promoting health and wellbeing for all.’

Shaping the future

‘We do not currently have Molar Mindset Ambassadors in all areas of the country, so if there is a passionate dental nurse reading this, who would like to be a part of this campaign, we would love to hear from you. For dental nurses who are interested in taking the course outside of being an ambassador – we invite you to email us for further details.

‘We welcome any ideas from dental nurses. After all, this is a platform exclusively for you, so if there is something you would like to see, please let us know. Our Molar Mindset panel, a voluntary team of dental nurses, is also currently open to applications. So, if you would like to help shape the future of The Molar Mindset, please apply.’

Follow the Molar Mindset on Instagram (@themolarmindset) and Facebook (The Molar Mindset) or get in touch by contacting [email protected] or 07731 497333.

Catch up with previous Nursing Matters columns:

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