Army dental nurse
Mark joined the Army a year ago and is a dental support specialist. He helps the dentist and provides administrative support to run the dental centre.
What is your normal day?
I arrive at the surgery early to get everything ready for when the dental surgeon arrives for the first patient. I take the drapes off the dental chair and power up all the equipment. I make sure the water supplies are fresh and running clean.
Once the patients arrive, my job is to be an extra pair of hands for the dentist to ease the burden and speed the throughput of patients. I have to know what instruments are needed for each procedure. I try to anticipate what the dentist will need. I need to know how to mount and store x-rays correctly.
Who are your patients?
Military personnel. Every person has an annual dental inspection and they return to us for any follow-up treatment needed. Sometimes appointments have to be rescheduled if personnel are away on courses, exercises or overseas. Individuals can also come in for emergency appointments if they are in pain.
Where do you work?
At the moment I am in an eight-chair dental centre in Aldershot, which looks very similar to a civilian dentist's surgery but I can work wherever the troops are. In Kosovo, we set up a field unit with a portable compressor and collapsible chair rather like a deck chair – more than one patient managed to fall off! We go out and provide treatment in the field so that personnel don't have to go home to see a dentist.
What about the future?
My career options are either practice management or dental hygiene, which I prefer as I enjoy working in the surgery and helping people improve their oral health. I am hoping to take some GCSEs so I can go on the course for dental hygiene.
What's the best thing about your job?
Encouraging a patient to take an interest in his or her oral hygiene.
Mark's dental nurse tip
- You need to like dealing with people.
Becoming an Army dental nurse
- Basic training is followed by training at the Defence Medical Service Training Centre and the Defence Dental Agency Training Establishment.
- The course covers aspects of dental training, general medical care and instruction on the completion of military documentation and other administrative procedures.
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