December 18, 2019

This month’s spotlight is on Ann Lilley, who shares her dental nurse journey from a community-based perspective.

When I left school in 1988, my first dental nursing post was in a general dental practice in my home town just outside of Bristol. I worked in a well-respected dentist that was much loved by staff and patients. It was a fantastic practice with five surgeries and staff were like family. I continued to work there for eight years during which I trained one day a week at Bristol Dental Hospital. The training course ran for a year and I qualified in 1991 having taken the NEBDN National Certificate.

During my time at the practice we had many amazing memories, one of which was when the local Bristol BBC made a documentary about dentistry on a programme called “close up west”. They filmed us for a week and it made us feel very important. There was one part where they filmed me all day and then speeded up the film to show a day in the life of a dental surgery. We have been trying to find a copy for years as it would be very funny to watch it now as I was considerably younger and slimmer!

I left the practice in 1996 to start my family, and decided I would be a mum for a while and seek work later. After less than a year I saw an advert back at Bristol Dental Hospital, where they were recruiting staff to operate the Out of Hours Emergency Dental Service evenings at weekends, for non-registered patients who were unable to see a dentist. This fitted in really well with family life, so I applied for a nursing post.

Within a very short space of time I ended up managing the service and triaging patients due to the huge numbers attending in pain. Over the years our teams have seen many changes and moved to different sites. I am still a Senior Dental Nurse there and share this role with a wonderful colleague called Donna. I’ve been working for the Out of Hours service for 23 years! Clearly I enjoy it. During our time we have operated dental advice lines for Bristol, BANES and North Somerset alongside the OOHS pain clinics.

A few years ago 111 took over the triage for OOHS dental patients but we continue to operate the clinics and emergency appointments during evenings and weekends. As my hours were reduced, I applied for a dental nurse post for the Primary Care Dental Service which I already work for, but based in the Community at Weston General Hospital, on behalf of UHBristol NHS Trust. The Primary Care Dental service has seven community clinics across the region. We see patients with additional needs, complex medical histories, phobic children and anyone who is unable to attend a general practice. Sedation is offered when deemed appropriate in our clinical settings to help patients relax during treatment. Domiciliary home care is offered to patients who are bed bound and all patients are treated by a referral system.

I gained the NEBDN qualification in Sedation Dental Nursing a few years ago and I still feel it was the most interesting course I had ever done. Our tutor at Bristol Dental Hospital is outstanding and I would thoroughly recommend Post-Registration qualification training to everyone. We also operate Hospital Orthodontic clinics here, our Consultant from Bristol Dental hospital operates Out Patients clinics here once a week. We have the opportunity to nurse for Orthognathic and complex orthodontic cases and see the finished results some years later.

I am the happiest in work I have ever been, I am the joker of the clinic and my job means the world to me. The staff treat patients with such care and we go above and beyond at times. Our trust has just been given an ‘Outstanding’ award by the Quality Care Commission. I am very proud of all we have achieved and would recommend nurses to look for community based work if you are looking for a challenge and rewarding work.

Fun fact: My passion is singing, and I am part of a local Rock Band called the Cringe, I am often heard singing at work and my patients love it. I encourage everyone to be positive, happy and work hard. Care for others always!

Written by
Jade Monori