Part 5 – Top tips for recruiting apprentices, qualified Dental Nurses and retaining your Dental Nurses

Part 5

I have now spent 21 years in dentistry and I have never seen the industry so short of dental nurses. I keep being asked by clients what to do? Where to find them? How to retain them? This is not just a UK problem or a problem affecting rural areas.

In my last blog I wrote about regulation responsibility and how nurses with the right guidance can provide so much support to your practice. In this blog, I cover maintaining GDC regulation with training.

Maintaining GDC regulation and training 

Many nurses are concerned about maintaining their regulation and the continuing costs surrounding their registration and indemnity. My first recommendation is are you able to provide registration and indemnity as a perk of working in the practice? £116 may not seem a lot but to nurses this is a significant amount of money to find and the fee is not tax deductible for them. If you are able to offer this as a perk both Laura and I would say you should. Indemnity is normally an easier perk to offer as dentists normally have an option of attaching nurses to their indemnity as part of their own memberships. These two perks I know would really make a difference to many nurses.

The next area blends in nicely with Part 3 of my blog series regarding confirmation of the direction your nurses are taking. Personally I really like the new PDPs as they are so much more role specific and are all about gaining key knowledge and increasing skills. My main tip around PDP is they need to come from the owner’s vision plan. I know you will all have started to prepare for the next 5 years as it is a PDP requirement; nurses are worrying about what plans they have in place. I have found that when working with practices, when the vision is clear for the owners and the associate dentists in the practice, it so much easier to support the nurses with their own PDPs. Their PDP should match the dentists training in areas that are key to supporting the vision; so make these the priority.

The normal key areas that we all have to do to maintain our registration. I would suggest, where possible, that these are planned well in advance. Bring training in-house to minimise disruption to the business. Also pick courses where you are happy receiving updates. If someone in your team experiences a great course then that should be shared. As a company we often get asked for recommendations on the best training programmes. Isopharm is highly recommended and seems to be a great platform for supporting the planning and recording of training. You could consider foundational CPD as an additional perk for your dental nurses. I believe it is £36 a year. The Isopharm platform is online so that really reduces the disruption to your practice.

The recording aspect is another area that is worrying the nurses having to write reflective accounts. Our courses always provide Enhanced CPD and a feedback form where we ask reflective questions. These questions are really useful in supporting all delegates who attend and we always recommend that they take a picture of their feedback form to aid reflective writing.

Investment in training tips

I understand that investing in training and education has to be a two way street and therefore you need to make sure that team members who go on courses are ready and are going to give 100%. Here are a few tips to support training; make it a real cornerstone of your business and support retention.

  1. Any team member that wants to attend a course e.g Sedation, Radiography, Treatment Coordination – is it in line with your vision? If you are not providing sedation and a nurse wants to do the course then as a business I would refuse to invest in this. I would offer support but the course and work associated would have to be done in their own time.
  2. For any team member wishing to attend a course, ask them to provide you with a supporting letter to confirm the difference it would make to them, the business. They also need to confirm that they do have the additional time for study.
  3. When a team member attends a course, which you have supported, you pay the associated travel and accommodation expenses. You should provide a travel budget. The further you book travel in advance the cheaper it will and you will be able to make savings from early bird offers and advanced travel and accommodation choices.
  4. Financially a team member should be happy to sign a disclosure that if they leave the business within one year of attending a significant course or qualification, that a discussion re the deduction of part of the fees is made if they hand in their notice. You do need to agree on the amount you are deducting per month – I would recommend 10%. If a team member resigns within a year then you must invite the team member for a formal meeting and confirm deductions from their final wage packet. This will include training and holiday. This needs to be signed off before it is sent to payroll. The team member then understands, agrees and authorises you to make these deductions.
  5. When a team member has attended a course make sure, when they return, you ask to see a copy of their feedback to show that you are taking an interest in what they have been learning.
  6. Where possible encourage the team member to put together a mini presentation so that they can impart their knowledge gained on the course. This is a really good way to confirm what they have learnt and supports their confidence and growth. Give them the time to do this and review their presentation to confirm that you are happy as owners.
  7. If the course is practical then make sure you have the set up to support this and there is a structure to enable them to complete a portfolio of work to confirm competency. Course examples would be oral health education, radiography, photography, impressions and scanning.
  8. If the course requires assignments and exams then allow study time within working hours. This needs to be agreed and will be approximately one to two hours per week dependant on the level of qualification.
  9. Finally once the skills are being used and the competency has been achieved reflect on your salary banding and confirm a salary increase if appropriate.

I know there is a lot within this area, however we know first-hand that if your team members are supported with their own development then your reward, as a dental practice, is staff retention and we call this a ‘win win’.

In the next blog we will moving to an ownership or leadership change.


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