Dental nurses have a pivotal role in modern dentistry and are responsible for carrying out many important and varied tasks in their day to day duties. This includes maintaining high levels of cleanliness and hygiene, taking notes during examinations, the decontamination of instruments and putting patients at ease in an environment that is commonly associated with anxiety and dread.
With such a varied job role, no two days are ever the same for a dental nurse, which is why Continuing Professional Development (CPD) will enable you to stand out from the crowd and enhance your skill set in this highly competitive industry. Effective dentistry is impossible without a competent and thoroughly trained nurse, so it is important you demonstrate to any potential employees and your fellow peers that you are one step ahead of the pack.
CPD is an ongoing, lifelong process facilitated by self-motivated learning and improving yourself as a professional. Documenting your development isn’t just building on your dental knowledge and experience, but it also relates to personal qualities such as tact and discretion that are fundamental in the working life of a dental nurse. As well as supporting your dentist, you will be handling confidential patient information, offering advice and caring for people who may be apprehensive.
In January 2018, the General Dentist Council (GDC) introduced Enhanced CPD for all dentist professionals including dentist nurses. This focused on the recommended processes that dental nurses should follow when carrying out CPD activities – “plan, do, reflect and record.” Logging your learning in a systematic way will enable you to monitor and illustrate your progress, as well as encourage you to think proactively about your professional requirements and the benefits you have gained from each planned activity.
The GDC have also enforced that dental nurses have to complete “a minimum of 50 hours of verifiable CPD per five-year cycle, with the requirement of a minimum of 10 hours in any two-year period.” Verifiable activities can include delivering presentations or attending seminars and workshops which result in proof that learning took place and can then be substantiated by someone else.
Even though there is no longer the obligation to declare non-verifiable CPD such as the casual reading of a professional journal, it is still advisable to engage with this format as long as it links in with your development plan. It also shows you are prepared to go the extra mile to further your knowledge base.
Individuals that invest time and effort in CPD have a significantly higher chance of advancing their careers and achieving higher salaries, as they give organisations reassurance that they have the tools to meet and maintain high professional levels. An abundance of extended clinical opportunities for dental nurses are also available without the need to step away from the chair side in areas such as oral hygiene, orthodontics and radiography.
It is the responsibility of all dental nurse professionals to keep up to date with the standards of their industry and is key to maintaining your place on the Dental Care Professional (DCP) register. The outcome offers value for both the individual and their profession.
A failure to record CPD and fulfil the learning conditions outlined by the GDC could result in an individual being suspended or receiving the ultimate kick in the teeth – losing their job. This is because it goes against the aspirations of the GDC to maintain the professionalism of the industry and preserve public confidence.
CPD teaches us never to underestimate the power of learning – this assurance that dental professionals are keeping their skills and knowledge up to date will develop a positive dental culture for years to come.