Studied: Dental Nurse Apprenticeship Standard
Progression: Occupational Therapy undergraduate
The ‘variety of each day’ is what stood out for Tatiani Vorgia-Turnbull as a dental nurse.
“I enjoy meeting new patients and learning about their life experiences. It’s not just teeth talk all the time,” she said.
“The dental nurse role is much more than just its title. You are a friendly face to your patient, an assistant to your dentist and a messenger between the multi-disciplinary team.”
During her time at New Road Dental Practice in Bromsgrove, Tatiani was part of a team of clinical and reception staff. Her role covered everything from setting up rooms and sterilising instruments before and after patients received treatment, to making sure patients were comfortable throughout.
In addition to this, she maintained patient records in line with general data protection regulations and the surgery’s stock levels.
Tatiani was also allocated additional responsibilities by becoming the practice’s COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) lead and safeguarding lead. This involved ensuring her colleagues were up to date with relevant CPD and briefing new staff about policies.
Tatiani became a dental nurse after joining the NHS as a catering assistant during the Covid pandemic.
During her Apprenticeship Standard training, she became passionate about providing a patient-centred experience where people felt empowered, listened to and supported. This passion continues to grow as she steers her career towards occupational therapy.
Tatiani has begun a degree in this field and aims to continue working part-time as a dental nurse so that she maintains her industry knowledge.
“The aim of occupational therapy is to improve the patients’ quality of life by helping them reach their goals,” Tatiani explained.
“Goals can range widely. For example, from getting out of bed independently to learning to ride a bicycle. From assisting patients in the dental chair and seeing the impact a healthcare worker can make, I plan to continue this level of care and dedication in my occupational therapy career.”
Tatiani continued: “Working in the healthcare sector allows you to gain many transferrable skills. Things like organisational skills, time management and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment relate to a wide variety of professions. There’s also working to the regulations and guidelines that are in place to help protect and support patients and staff.
“These are all qualities that have helped me understand the important part that a healthcare professional plays in shaping how patients view the sector.”
Once she becomes a qualified and practicing occupational therapist, Tatiani hopes to gain experience in a variety of settings.
Tatiani added: “As a dental nurse at New Road, I took pride in building a good rapport with the patients. I felt like I made a positive contribution to the community.”
“I’m confident I will continue to do this as my career moves forward.”