Read the fascinating interview with Hala Cherabi, one of our trainees who has almost finished her Dental Nurse apprenticeship training. The discussion details her personal and career achievements over the last 18 months.
Q: What have you achieved and what skills have you learnt whilst being an apprentice?
A: At the age of 19, after completing my A levels, I enrolled on an 18th month apprenticeship Dental Nurse programme. In addition to this programme, I have also attended and completed 8 hours of verifiable CPD lectures. This is to enhance my knowledge on many aspects in dental nursing such as infection control, medical emergencies and working with vulnerable adults and children.
During my apprenticeship, I also volunteered and attended a primary school to assist in fluoride application to Key stage 1 classes. During this time, I was also able to speak to oral health educators, teachers and parents about my dental nurse apprenticeship. Many were unaware that one is able to complete dental nursing through an apprenticeship programme. I explained the programme, as well the advantages of doing apprenticeship. I really believe apprenticeships are a more motivating pathway to a career, as you are studying and working in the environment that you want to be in.
My apprenticeship has taught me many skills such as, communication and team leading. I have the confidence to explain to patients about their treatments. I also now have the experience in running team exercises and I am able to communicate effectively with other staff members of different levels. My experience also extends to training new staff members about infection control and how to nurse effectively in different dental procedures.
My apprenticeship has opened many doors for me, as I am now able to apply for post registration courses. I have applied to do a 2.5-year dental hygiene and therapy diploma and Kings College and UCLH. I always want to continue learning and developing my skills in order for me to have the best career I can. I hope to work in the dentistry field for a very long time.
Q: What have been your personal and career success during this time?
At the practice I was working for, I discovered that they did not have an infection control check list for nurses when opening and closing a surgery. I was responsible for creating this check list from my dental knowledge which included implementing an infection control policy in the practice. This not only benefited the practice but also helped new nurses in the practice to have a good understanding of what needs to be done and helped guide them through opening and closing a surgery. It was a real benefit for the new nurse, I trained as she was unaware of these procedures.
During the last 18 months’ friends and relatives, who have chosen other career routes always ask me about my apprentice programme, which I explain was the best decision I made in terms of my career development. I cannot stress how it has opened so many doors for me and has allowed me to progress and develop both professionally and personally. I have become more organised and disciplined because I now work 5 days a week, study in the evenings and hand in assignments.
Q: Why did you become and apprentice?
Thinking back, I was not exposed to apprenticeships until and unless I explored my options, and I wasn’t told about all the sectors that are available such as dental nursing. Whilst talking to friends, family and patients that have asked me about my apprenticeship I came to realise that the majority of them assumed apprenticeships are many got to do with either engineering, accounting or mechanics.
Whilst working as a dental nursing, I have worked with a range of dentists in different specialities. At first I was introduced to cosmetic dentistry, working with a general dentist that has a great interest in cosmetic dentistry. I have observed and assisted in many procedures including composite bonding and veneer fitting. I have also worked with a implantologist and a dentist with special interests in periodontics. Implantology was definitely a great procedure to assist in, from drilling into the bone, to bone grafting to seeing the patient overjoyed and pleased with their new set of permanent teeth. After working as a dental nurse I knew that the dentistry field is something I love as there is always something new to learn whether you are a trainee dental nurse on your first day or if you are a qualified dentist who has been working for more than 20 years, every day there is a new patient, a new case, and something more to learn.
An apprenticeship is a challenging route as it has always kept me working hard, from working full time and coming back home to study for my evenings in college and my exams. I am glad that through all the ups and downs it has made me a new, stronger, confident individual and I am confident to say that I have never regretted one part of it.
For more information on how to become a Dental Apprentice click here