Day In The Life Of An Apprentice Dental Nurse

Day In The Life Of An Apprentice Dental Nurse

Alarm goes off at 5.50am - push snooze at least 3 times before panic sets in that I might be late for work. Kettle on. Coffee down. Ready.

I start work at 7.45am, but I like to be organised, so for my own sanity, I try and get to the practice by 7.30am at the latest, ready for the first patient at 8am.
I never used to be this organised, and certainly never made the effort to get to work early! I guess that’s what happens when you fall into a job/career that you actually enjoy, you want to be the best you can be. I’m not the only one at our practice who turns up early, so that makes me feel better - knowing I’m not the only insane trainee nurse.

First things first. Kettle on. Scrubs on. Right, let’s do this.

Grab the notes and day list (yes we’re old school and still don’t have everything on digital yet). Run through the day list and make sure I’ve got all the necessary lab work, instruments, materials, and double check that no one has ‘borrowed’ my one and only straight handpiece and acrylic bur (got to love a denture ease!).

First patient due in the chair at 8am, dentist rocks up at 8.02am (standard). Good job I know him and we have a good working relationship, otherwise I’d be stressing right out by now. It won’t take us long to bring ourselves back on time. It took a few months of trial and error, but we now have our patient books running efficiently, so if we ever run late for whatever reason, I know I’ll have time later on to catch up with decon, log books etc.

The morning goes by smoothly, but I felt sorry for the last patient before lunch who I’m sure could hear my stomach growling over the sound of the drill!

Had a patient with a medical condition that the dentist referred to the oral surgeon for extraction of a tooth. Why wouldn’t he do it in surgery? I like being comfortable enough with my colleague to be able to ask these questions without feeling stupid. There’s so much I still don’t know, but I’m getting there. Although he said, and my tutor also said, that in the medical industry, you never stop learning, there’s always areas you don’t know about, but that’s an interesting and exciting part to what we do.

For me, being able to learn these skills, and have a qualified professional to work with on a daily basis is so valuable. I just don’t see how you can learn to be a dental nurse sat in a classroom 4 days a week. I think I would find it harder to put the theory into practice if I had gone down the college route rather than do an apprenticeship. Learning on the job, especially in such a hands-on, practical environment is definitely the best way for me.

The rest of the afternoon flies by, last patient leaves and it’s clean down time. 15 minutes to get decon done, surgery cleaned down and lines flushed.

I’ve got a webinar tonight. It’s not until 6pm I think, so plenty of time to get home and sort myself out. I don’t mind the webinars actually. At the beginning I thought they were a bit tedious, but my tutor advised me once to watch them, and make brief notes, but then to re-watch them from the recordings at my own pace and make more detailed notes. That was actually really good advice, and I’ve picked up so much more information that way. I also like that you can interact with the other students and give your opinions. It’s good to see different suggestions and ideas, and to know how other nurses are coping with working and being a student. 

Webinar was useful, helped me with ideas on how to approach the next assignment. I think I’ll cope with it well. Deadline is a couple of weeks away, so I’ll start planning that tomorrow night. I’ve found that if I do a little bit every evening, then the work doesn’t build up and get on top of me, especially with working 5 days a week.

I think that’s enough dentistry for 1 day, and my husband is looking hungry, so I should really feed him…..or not.

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