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Lead Dental Nurse Skills

18 May 2017

To make the lead dental nurse role a viable career option, it must be supported with formal training and skills assessment to assure that those dental nurses in lead roles have the ability, resources and support needed to make an effective and rewarding contribution to the team. This training must build their:
• Confidence 
• Knowledge of how to use best practice techniques for leading and developing teams of dental nurses
• Leadership and management skills, so that they can excel in their role and realise benefits for patients, employers and colleagues. 

Leadership and management skills for lead dental nurses 
Every qualified dental nurse will have demonstrated that they have the skills and knowledge required to work effectively as part of a dental team. The role of the lead dental nurse is to ensure that each qualified nurse is clear about how those responsibilities are interpreted by their employer and how they are required to manage their time and resources, so that they can contribute to the professionalism of the team. For student dental nurses, the lead dental nurse’s role will be to ensure the practice provides a suitable environment to support their learning and development. 

The lead nurse requires leadership and management skills to ensure their team of nurses know how to place   patients' interests first, take responsibility for their work and observe the principles of professionalism set out in Standards for the Dental Team (2013). This requires a range of personal and communication skills so that they can provide valuable support and guidance to their team of dental nurses. Lead nurses must be fully aware of how their employers define their role, and the level of authority the role carries, so that they meet the expectations and can fulfil the role effectively, without overstepping the employer’s expectations or the GDC Scope of Practice requirements. The lead nurse’s management and leadership role will include work allocation to the team and ensuring that every team member has meaningful work that enables them to continuously develop their skills and contribute to the practice’s overall patient care objectives. 

Since the dental workplace is demanding and requires professionalism, having the skills to make appropriate decisions on a day-to-day basis is essential for the team leader, who must ensure that their teams are energised and motivated. In addition, problem solving and decision making skills are needed – lead nurses must be able to assess the quality of information available to them when decision making. 

Increasing demands placed up on Registered Providers and Registered Managers to meet ever more complex regulatory requirements are the driving force of the need to appoint team leads. In large organisations, responsibility for the work carried out is devolved through a complex management structure so that strategic leaders can be confident that the requirements are met for the success of the business. 

Small dental practices have not needed this type of complex management structure until now. To maintain the essential principles of quality management, every team member needs to be committed to meeting quality principles. This means that each person needs to be involved in the development and maintenance of internal quality standards. The best way to ensure this happens routinely is through the use of Quality Circle processes; this is where small work teams meet regularly to review events and implement processes to enable them to learn from experience. Work events are then compared to good practice standards and an assessment is made of the extent to which current working practices are fit for purpose. The lead dental nurse should oversee this process and ensure that every dental nurse is included and involved in the process.

There is a significant leap between being an excellent dental nurse with superb clinical skills and being a lead dental nurse with responsibility for overseeing the work of other dental nurses. The lead dental nurse needs to set standards and provide feedback to colleagues on their performance. Success in the lead role depends on:
• Role clarity 
• Support from practice management 
• Leadership and management skills

With all of the above in place, the post holder is more likely to have the confidence the role requires. If the lead nurse lacks confidence they will lack credibility and will have to deal with resistance or confrontation, which will ultimately undermine their ability to achieve their role's objectives.

The key skills for success can be developed through a six-week Introduction to lead dental nursing skills course. This is a taught blended learning course, with one-to-one live tutorials, to cover a range of practical learning activities.

The introductory course can be followed by an additional nine months of study toward the Certificate in Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses. See http://www.glenys-bridges.co.uk/course.aspx?id=10178. 

This course is quality assured by Innovate Awarding and covers each of the four domains of dental education, to demonstrate the role of the lead nurse in maintaining the highest standards of well-led dental care, which are inclusive and enable each dental nurse to meet their full potential within the team.


Having been employed as a head dental nurse for many years, I'd reached a point in my career where it was 'make or break'. I was struggling to find a potential employer whom would take me seriously in wanting to progress into practice management and had numerous unsuccessful interviews. I found Glenys Bridges Dental Practice Management course online and thought I would give it a go. Little did I realise at the time of enrolling that this course would open up new doors for myself and give me the knowledge and confidence to succeed into practice management. As the course progressed, so did my confidence. I looked forward to my tutorials and the course is set out in a way which tackles each topic in an order which is easy to digest. I can honestly say that this course was the turning point in my career and I am now the proud practice manager of a lovely orthodontic practice. I love my new role and am utilising many things learnt in the course such as people management and business planning. I cannot thank Glenys Bridges enough for her support and feel very lucky to have had such a knowledgeable mentor.

Shelley Lord

The course was very specific and has a lot off new informations to me and I really enjoyed reading the notebook. * the high point was when I reach to know about the different types of management theories and the hierarchy theory. * I really gained a lot off new informations about the management styles and the main differences between management and leadership. * The tutor was very easygoing and as non English native speaker the tutor was very clear when she was explaining to me and in all classes that I had and she was happy to answer all my enquires. * I think I got all the support to finish my course with a good understanding and a good amount of knowledge. * I like to say thank you for your great support and care and I hope to join the next level of course as soon as I can.

Issa Al Husaini , Introduction to Supervisory Dental Practice Management

I have found the Team Lead Dental Nurse skills a really useful training course. Becki has been a great support throughout the course with regular contact sessions. Not only has she given me support and advise through the course but also on a personal level giving me examples and support on a real life basis within my job role. Which I found helpful during the first few weeks of me new position.

RP, Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses -S 1

I now have more confidence with distance learning after doing this introduction course. I am looking forward to working with Glenys in the future. Many thanks.

Michelle Hammond, Introduction to Operational Dental Practice Management

I am doing a Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Dental Practice Management with Rebecca Morris. I'm really enjoying the course so far, I am currently working my way through my second unit of work, after achieving 100% on my unit 1. The support provided by Becki every week is just brilliant, she explains everything I need to know in order to complete my course work. The regular phone calls keeps motivation throughout the process. I'm also finding the course is already taking effect in day to day work, which is extremely useful! Overall brilliant course and amazing tutor!

Sarah Toye, Advanced Operational Dental Practice Management Skills S3

For me being new to the management field, this course has opened my mind to new thinking ways and leadership styles .. it was easy to digest and clear to follow specially having Becki my tutor, thing wear smooth as she was very supportive and always available to be contacted..

Yassmen Al lawati Sr. dental nurses ( conscious sedation), Introduction to Supervisory Dental Practice Management

The course was well designed with lots of content useful to lead dental nurses. Being able to work independently but knowing there was support in the form of course notes and tutor backup. Glenys was very accommodating -offering tutorials and very prompt feedback via email. I am already implementing some of the advice & information I received. I can not fault the support I received and would highly recommend it to friends and colleagues.

SP, Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses- S2 HEE

Absolutely loving the course so far and I have put into practice everything I have learnt , Edita is a fantastic tutor and puts her heart and soul into teaching. looking forward to the next part of the course

HH, Advanced Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses -S 1

I thought the course was very informative and value for money. I feel much more confident in my role than i did before. I felt my tutor was amazing, she was so supportive of me and believed in me when i did not believe in myself. I would recommend this course to all dental nurses as its content and structure is faultless, and will give you the confidence you need to be a great leader.

Heidi , Introduction to Team Leading Skills for Dental Nurses- Home.

The course is well laid out and practical in terms of the skills required for Practice Management. This has given me valuable learning in order to go ahead and have the understanding about how to tackle situations that arise in management. Glenys is always supportive and offers sound and easy to understand advice and guidance. I would recommend this course to anyone hoping to pursue a position in Practice Management or to support anyone currently within the role.

Jo Wrigglesworth, Level 4 Dental Practice Management

I have just completed the care coordination course with Edita, who was absolutely brilliant from start to finish. She gave me the confidence to believe I was able to keep going, even in the areas I found tricky. The course has developed my skills and confidence and will be used in my day to day work life.

Christine , Level 4 Certificate in Dental Care Coordination

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