Locum dental nursing: the pros and cons

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

This month, Gemma Forsythe talks to dental nurse Yakini Lateefah to find out the pros and cons of locum dental nursing.

Locum dental nursing is something that intrigues me, going from one practice to the next from day to day, not knowing who you are going to be nursing alongside or what kind of practice you’re walking into. 

For me, it would be my worst nightmare as I am a real creature of habit. I love knowing where everything is, what way my dentist works and how everything works in the practice.

I wanted to look into this more, especially as more dental nurses are now looking at locuming as it allows them to set not only their own working hours but also their own wage. 

This month, I caught up with Yakini Lateefah, a five star locum working in London and surrounding areas. Yakini has 11 years experience and covers general and specialist dentistry.  Keep reading to find out more about Yakini’s locuming experience, saving the day for one practice at a time.

How did you get into dental nursing?

I became interested in dental nursing because of a good friend that I was working in retail with – she was training in dental nursing part-time. We worked weekends together in a clothing store and she’d tell me all about her week in practice and all the treatments she’d assist for. This intrigued me to want to pursue work in the field, so I did some research on the attributes and requirements needed to become a dental nurse.

I then applied to a hospital trainee job soon after and got the position.

What was it that drew you into locum dental nursing?

What drew me into locuming was the fact that you can continuously meet and work with new people. I was always interested to see how clinicians worked differently.

Also, being able to assist in all aspects of dentistry and gaining experience and confidence in varied treatments interests me too. Staying in one permanent practice didn’t allow me to do that.

With locum dental nursing, you visit lots of different dental practices. Can it feel like your first day over and over or do you find you get used to different environments quite quickly?

With years of experience, I am able to adapt very quickly and easily to new environments.

As long as I am given a good tour around the practice and shown the important aspects for patient safety, such as the X-ray developer, medical emergency equipment and stock room, I’m good to go. I have always been a quick and independent learner, so I’m happy to look around for things and I’m not worried about asking questions if I need to.

What are the various requirements to starting your own locum business?

To start your own locum business, firstly you’ll need to build a client base (dental practices that use locums). You can do this by dropping business cards to practices or visiting practices and asking to speak to the practice manager or owner about your services. You could also create a social media page and send out emails advertising who you are, what you do and clear instructions on how to book you.

It’s also very important to be fully General Dental Council (GDC) and Care Quality Commission (CQC) compliant. Upon booking, practices will need to see certification showing that you are qualified and meet the professional standards required to work safely as a locum dental nurse. These include GDC annual renewal certificate, in date indemnity, DBS, immunisations etc.

What are the biggest advantages of locum dental nursing for you?

The biggest advantage of locum dental nursing for me is the vast flexibility and work-life balance it provides. I am able to choose how often or how little I work which enables me to do things I love outside of work such as travelling abroad and practising wellness.

Are there any cons to locum dental nursing?

The only cons I can think of are occasionally having to chase payments from practices. I’d advise aspiring locums to send a copy of locum terms and conditions with your payment terms and ensure it’s agreed to before attending any bookings. This way, if you ever have to take measures to speed up payment, the proof is there.

Another downside would be arriving at a poorly stocked practice with unhelpful permanent staff – this will make your shift difficult, but the upside of being your own boss is that you don’t have to return to that practice!

What are your goals for your locum business in the future?

My future goals for my locum business are to hopefully continue building a clientele. I enjoy the challenges of going to a new practice to help out with staff shortage. Practices are always so appreciative which contributes towards job satisfaction.

I am also currently undergoing mentoring for dental compliance consultancy. I would like to offer my services to dental practices helping them become CQC compliant and advise on how to maintain a high standard between inspections.

In my eight years of locuming, I have been fortunate to have worked in over 200 dental practices. I am excited to be able to apply my experience and knowledge of compliance in a new business venture.

What advice would you give to other dental nurses who are considering locuming?

My best advice to nurses considering locuming is if you’re highly adaptable, not afraid to meet new people, professional, self motivated, efficient and confident in your nursing skills then you’re already 90% there.

Secondly, don’t be disheartened if it’s taking some time to gain clients or if you don’t hear back from some – not all will become a client and that’s okay! Persevere and stay consistent with advertising your skills and you’ll attract the right ones. Then, before you know it, you’ll have a list of regulars that keep growing!

Catch up with previous Nursing Matters columns:

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