From Dental Nurse to Quality Manager
For this month’s Crowning Careers, we are joined by Emma Hoyles, Quality Manager at NEBDN who joined the Charity in May 2019.
My career as a qualified NEBDN Dental Nurse started in 1999 following a whole day of examinations (I sympathise with students as back then it was a vigorous style of oral, practical, written and multiple-choice questions all in one day). When I left school, I went to college and trained to be a Nursey Nurse and got a job at a private day nursery. However, not long after that I decided it wasn’t for me. I felt disheartened after spending all that time studying and wasn’t sure what to do next. I then found an advert in a local newspaper for a trainee dental nurse position and have not looked back since!
Once I gained employment as a trainee nurse, I spent three years at a practice in Lancashire learning all the practical aspects of the job. The practice had six surgeries and was a busy high street NHS surgery that supported the training of foundation dentists as well as trainee dental nurses. I had to attend night school every Thursday evening from 6-10pm to learn all the theory content.
I then moved on to Manchester as a qualified dental nurse working for a city centre high street mixed NHS and private practice. Initially I spent most of my time working in surgery and then learnt further aspects of the job like running the reception, stock ordering and supporting with the implementation of quality processes and systems. This then led to becoming one of the senior nurses within the practice. I loved every minute of it and especially liked implementing new systems and training and developing new staff. Watching other people’s skills and knowledge improve was very rewarding. After three years I was then promoted to be a Dual Site Practice Manager, which involved looking after two city centre practices in Manchester.
Being a practice manager was great, but I missed the practical side of the job and the face to face interaction with patients, so I decided to look for other opportunities and in 2006 I went to work for NHS Direct as a Dental Nurse Advisor. My role there involved the clinical triage and assessment of patient’s not under the care of a dentist or during the out of hours period. This enabled me to provide clinical advice within my scope of practice and signpost patients to the most appropriate service, dependant on their needs. I was quickly promoted to team leader whilst there managing a team of 25 dental nurse advisors. However, due to some organisational changes and contracts ending, I decided to return to my former role as practice manager between 2010 – 2013.
After working in public and private sectors I realised I enjoyed working in the public sector the most and carried on my career progression to Cumbria where I worked as a Network Manager for the Community NHS Dental service. It was a big step-up in terms of seniority, so it was quite a challenge. I looked after 10 sites across Cumbria with operational responsibility for approximately 150 staff members. The service covered a broad spectrum of patients including patients with complex medical needs or suffering from severe dental anxiety, special care patients, patients with oral cancer and paediatric patients requiring treatment under general anaesthetic.
Working here gave me a good experience of engaging with wider stakeholders and patient groups. I enjoyed the operational aspect of that job. However, I have always had a passion for quality, governance, education and supporting the progression of role of the dental nurse. I stumbled across the NEBDN role on Facebook and after reading the job description I felt it was the perfect job for me. I’ve now worked here for over five months and love the diversity of the role. I love working with the team and getting to meet different types of course providers and influencing and improving our quality assurance processes. I feel proud that I have gone full circle, from sitting an NEBDN exam to now working here. After taking different career paths I feel I was meant to stay within the field of dental nursing. I am passionate that I can support education and help to shape the future of dental nurses.
My advice to future dental nurses thinking about their next steps, would be to stay true to your own personal values and put time and effort in when you can. Gain all the knowledge and skills available when opportunities arise and don’t be afraid to try different roles to see what area you work best in. I never thought I would be working for NEBDN or undertaking a master’s degree in healthcare leadership and management – I am now half way through completing my course and I couldn’t be prouder of myself and my achievements.
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