Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

My job explained: Dental nurse

My job explained: Dental nurseJillian Eastmond describes how she became a dental nurse and how her career fits in with her life as mum.

What made you choose to be a dental nurse?

I wanted to be a midwife until I saw my nephew being born. That changed my ideas, but I still wanted a career in healthcare. I did a work placement with a local dental practice who then offered me a permanent job. It was a large practice attached to a health centre, so there was a real variety of patients. I enjoyed the job: so much going on, so much to learn, and the staff were good to work with.

About four years later a new nurse joined the practice. She held the dental nursing certificate, and I realised that while I had plenty of experience I had no formal qualification. Talking to her I also saw that whilst I could mostly do the same things she could, she knew more about the theory behind it. I decided that I wanted that knowledge. So, aged 21, I got a job as a clinical orderly at Manchester Dental School, and after a short time applied to join the dental nursing course.

What was the training like?

It was a two-year, full-time course, and I was paid as student dental nurse. I loved the course: the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I felt I gained confidence and achieved the goals I set for myself, even though it was quite hard going at times.

How has you career progressed?

Since then, I have always worked in dental hospitals because you deal with more complex cases and have more opportunities to carry on learning.

I moved to London, became a mum, and steered my career towards becoming a dental nurse tutor - teaching future generations of nurses. I didn't want to give up nursing altogether, so now I have a 3 way split: 50% as a nurse tutor, 30% as a dental nurse, and 20% (one day a week) to be a mum. The hospital has been very accommodating.

What would your advice be to a budding dental nurse?

The important thing about dental nursing is to treat each patient as a person, not just a mouth. Patient management skills are critical: you can be treating people with anorexia or depression one moment, and a very nervous young child the next. You don't have to start straight from school; a more mature attitude and broader life experience can be very useful. If you want, it can also lead on to other careers in the dental team or in wide healthcare. But I'm very happy where I am.

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)