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President elect of the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN), and Oral Health Coordinator at Barnfield College in Luton, Angie’s first encounter with what has turned out to be a lifelong commitment to the profession was at the tender age of 13 when she did some work experience at a local dental practice.
When she left school, her first job was dental nursing as part of a YTS scheme, but after some time Angie decided to take a career break and follow her interest in fashion. She studied for an HNC in fashion and garment technology, but kept working as a dental nurse at weekends.
She says, ‘Fashion design was always something that interested me, and after qualifying I did some costumier work for Scottish opera and moved to London to take up a post at Morris Angels, the costumiers. I then moved on to working for a company who made clothes for musicians and bands.’ However, although she enjoyed her fashion work, the pull of dentistry was just too strong. ‘The more I worked in fashion the more I realised it wasn’t for me. I decided to do some temping to get myself back into dental nursing.’
After working at a surgery in South Tottenham, qualifying and starting her family, Angie left but kept her hand in dentistry by doing the odd day as a locum. After the family moved to Bedford, she got a job in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Bedford Hospital, starting off as a dental nurse and then becoming senior dental nurse. During the same period she obtained her sedation qualification (winning the Roche prize in the process) and was also informally teaching in the hospital.
It was around this time that Angie contacted Barnfield College to ask for an opportunity to do some teaching. ‘I started with teaching, and later was asked to become an NVQ assessor at the college, and eventually they asked me to take over the delivery of the NVQ. A job came up to coordinate the NVQ centre, and I took that up; however I continued to work clinically as I believe it is very important to maintain my clinical skills.’
The College’s team approach means that she has been able to work at expanding the programme for dental nursing. The college has now changed its part time course to have two intakes a year and a cadet programme is set to open in September 2007 for 16 18 year old students. Over the past year Angie has supported Barnfield College in developing a dental nurse training room which has a dental unit and surgery set up. This will enable the cadets to go to their practice placements with some basic experience and get the chance to build their confidence before work placements begin. Angie is also currently involved in developing a foundation degree course in dental nursing at the University of Bedfordshire, who work in partnership with Barnfield College.
With the introduction of statutory registration, Angie feels that practices must have a very robust induction programme for their dental nurses. ‘This prepares them for work in the dental setting prior to taking up a place on an education programme,
where they will work towards a registrable qualification. Moving forward has not always been an easy pathway because when you introduce anything new, there is often reluctance,’ she says. However, she maintains that she would like to see a standardised induction process developed for all practices in the UK Scotland has already recognised the need for such a programme.
Angie feels that practices must have a very robust induction programme for their dental nurses.
Now solely involved in developing the oral health education programme at Barnfield College, Angie has a very full working life; she is on a number of committees and groups and her work at the BADN certainly keeps her busy. In 2005 she took up her current post of Chairman of the BADN National Education Group (previously named the National Teachers and Assessors group); she has represented BADN at the Skills for Health dental nurse vocational qualification review, and is a member of the Skills for Health Oral Health Strategy Group. Here, key people in the dentistry field look at developing occupational standards for the whole of dentistry including occupational standards and extended duties for Dental Care Professionals (DCPs). Angie is also an NEBDN examiner.
Angie recently became President elect of the BADN and felt honoured to be nominated for the post by two of the Association’s past Presidents. She says, ‘I really feel my job as President elect is initially to highlight the importance of Statutory Registration and dental nurses’ responsibility to embrace it and take our profession forward. BADN works tirelessly to ensure dental nurses are involved and know what’s happening in our profession.’ She believes BADN’s scheme to provide indemnity insurance as a member benefit is a forward thinking move designed to facilitate dental nursing’s move into a registered profession, and promote recognition of dental nurses’ vital role in the dental team, whilst providing the necessary protection for individuals themselves.
One of the areas Angie wants to focus on is dental nurse education. ‘Though there are so many good things going on through colleges and PCTs around the country, too many dental nurses are still having to attend evening classes this is no longer an acceptable method of educating people working towards becoming registered dental care professionals. Dental nurse educators need to come together as a whole and look at ways of educating people during the day, for example, through cadet/apprenticeship programmes or at the very least, day release,’ she says.
She also flags up funding as another issue and would like to see a model similar to medical nursing, where dental nurses are funded through the Department of Health. It is important that student dental nurses understand how the knowledge gained in the classroom links to their duties in the surgery.’
For Angie, registration is a positive move as it will allow dental nurses to take on extended duties and become more involved in the direct treatment of patients, whilst providing more protection for the patient through dental nurses’ professional status and, therefore,
accountability. ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for dental nurses and a really exciting time for our profession but it is only the beginning. We will see dental nurses taking personal responsibility for their careers and seeking out education and CPD opportunities. These changes are the first step for dental nurses to move forward and gain the recognition they deserve.’