Having their former apprentice dental nurse as practice manager means Church Stretton Dental and Implant Centre see the value of apprenticeship schemes from every side.
Richard Atkins was a trainee and then qualified dental nurse for three years and has been practice manager for an additional three and a half. As part of his role, he helps guide new apprentices through their training, welcoming their input on how best to run the practice.
“We’re a relatively small team which includes three apprentice dental nurses and we all work closely together,” said Richard. “What’s great about this is the crossover of knowledge, ideas and experience that we bring to the table.
“The apprentices are very much part of this, whether it’s coming up with different ways to provide excellent service, using social media channels like Instagram to showcase who we are, or making sure we always work well together.”
Becoming practice manager was a natural progression route for Richard. Towards the end of his apprenticeship and while settling into his dental nurse role, he increasingly took on more of the practice’s operational duties regarding data management and policy and procedural updates. This led to the team’s administrative work becoming less paper and more IT/ technology-based.
While this happened, the practice enjoyed significant growth through an extension to the building and the opening of a second practice. A third practice is in the pipeline, which Richard believes apprentices will continue to be involved in.
“As a former apprentice, it’s good for me to give others that chance to learn from scratch and make the most of the opportunities available to them,” said Richard.
“We’ve seen former and current apprentices adapt and grow as individuals, taking on more responsibilities. At the height of the pandemic for example, when we could only provide emergency treatments, we had around 6-7 patients a day. We’re now back up to our daily total of 100 patients. Our apprentices have responded well to this, which is rewarding for everyone.”
Richard added: “The apprenticeship scheme is also fantastic for its ability to support both school leavers and those seeking to change careers. Updates to the dental nurse Apprenticeship framework mean that my colleagues and I keep learning as well.”