A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TRAINEE DENTAL NURSE
By Gabriella Lynn
Hey everyone, most people know me as Gabs. I’m not too keen on Gabriella, for some reason I always feel like I’m in trouble being called by my full name or is it just me? It takes me back to my 7-year-old self when I’d smashed a rather expensive ornament pretending I was Xena Warrior Princess (only the 90s kids will know).
I’ve been at Indigo Dental for nearly 2 years now. I started here as a trainee but luckily qualified just before lock down struck, it really couldn’t have been better timing.
I feel for you nurses who have missed out on sitting your exams this year, keep at it, it will all be worth it in the end. The feeling you get knowing you have passed your NEBDN exams is like a 50-ton weight has been lifted off your shoulders – because they are not easy! The best part is not having to wear a ‘trainee dental nurse’ badge anymore, I seem to have misplaced that the day I found out I had passed, funnily enough.
We get it, you see the badge and you think ‘oh no’ but to be honest, we are probably more nervous than you. I always remember the first time trying to mix alginate and choking a patient on my runny mixture. Ever since then I always have a feeling of impending doom when being asked to mix it…hooray to digital dentistry!
So ‘A day in the life’ goes a little like this for me…
6.30am – Alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button.
6.40am – Alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button.
6.50am – Alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button.
This goes on for around 45 minutes despite promising my-self the previous morning that I wouldn’t be doing this game again…oops.
7.15am – Alarm goes off for the 100th time that morning and I am now in panic mode because I’m running late. The next 45 minutes are a blur consisting of getting me and my daughter ready, dropped off at breakfast club and at work for 8.45am. It would be easier if she didn’t request such elaborate hair styles on a morning. This week it’s a dutch crown braid, and no there isn’t any reasoning with her. I love that she’s strong minded (or stubborn) even at 7 years old. My Dad says she gets it from me but I disagree ha!
8.45am – I arrive at work, kettle on, scrubs on. For the next 15 minutes its all the boring stuff (but most important!) like checking the medical emergency drugs, checking all the equipment is working and running tests, logging log books, checking lab work and then setting up for the first patient of the morning.
10.30am – The morning has flown by and if I get a spare 5 minutes I sneak in a quick tea break and a biscuit or 3.
11.30am – Head up to the decontamination room and process the dirty instruments and pack the clean. Once you’ve been here a while you get used to doing everything at lightning speed, it’s amazing what you can achieve in just a few minutes before the next patient arrives! It’s funny to think back to when I first started here in 2018 and how slow I was at everything. For me, learning on the job in a hands on environment is better. You do get thrown in at the deep end at first but you soon realise how quickly you pick up new skills. I love that I get that 1-1 time with experienced dental professionals to be able to ask any questions and get valuable knowledge from them.
1pm – Lunch time! By now most patients will have heard my stomach rumbling so I have a big lunch to keep me ticking over until 5pm. I also squeeze in a quick jog to make me feel less guilty about all the biscuits I’ve consumed that morning.
2pm- Its time to start the afternoon session and see more patient’s. At this point, I’m wondering if I can make it to 5 o-clock without thinking about food, but the afternoon flies by.
3.30pm – Sneaky tea break and another biscuit.
5pm- Home time! When the last patient leaves, the surgery is shut down and every square inch is thoroughly cleaned and all the lines are flushed. I also stock up the surgery for the next day if there is time, it’s really annoying when you have brought the patient in and you realise you have run out of something. You have to remove your gloves, mask and visor, run upstairs to grab whatever it is you need, run back to surgery, and put your gloves, mask and visor back on. So stocking up beforehand is really important although you don’t always get the chance to do it, it just makes the appointment run smoothly for the patient.
All in all, our days are pretty hectic. The smooth running of the practice has a lot of work behind the scenes. It’s my responsibility to try keep the dentists on time as much as possible but sometimes life can just get in the way. It might be that patients are stuck in traffic or a procedure takes longer than expected (its usually those lower molars that just don’t want to come out!)
Studying whilst working has been a real struggle at times. I’ve had my bad days where I’ve thought is this ever going to end?! Trying to fit in working 5 days a week (sometimes 6), coursework, exams, buying my first home, whilst also bringing up a sassy 7 year old, (oh and the odd bottomless brunch) has been tough but I wouldn’t change a thing! I’ve finally found a job that I love so all the stress and running around is worth it. Although Covid-19 has really slowed the pace of things now- After being closed for 11 weeks, we are happy to be welcoming back our patients despite things being very different. We are very limited on what treatment we can carry out at the moment until the alert rate for the UK lowers, so hang on in there; we are just as eager as you guys to get things running back to normal!
To round things up, were not just dental nurses we are saliva sucking, cheek retracting, filling preparing, material mixing, tooth catching, baby sitting, tea making, super speed toilet break taking, very caring dental nurses.
If you want to join us as a new patient, please call us on 0113 263 2960, or send an email to [email protected]