Another in the series of anonymous tales of dental nursing experiences. Here, a dental nurse reveals how running errands and do a spot of gardening took precedence over any surgery experience

I joined an orthodontic practice offering private treatment in spring 2018. I was over the moon to be offered this great position and start my dental nurse training. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worst a few weeks into the job. I was promised full training and support, but this was not the case. The practice was a walk from the town centre and I was constantly being asked to run personal errands for the owner that had no relevance to the business. I was also given tasks, such as cleaning the practice and the garden, or sorting patient file cards all day with no patient interaction or no surgery experience. I was made to feel like the odd job man, which was really upsetting and frustrating as I was bursting to get into surgery and get my qualification.

After a few months at the practice, I was finally trained to work the reception desk and got my first patient interaction. Only then was I introduced to the clinical side. I started off shadowing one day a week and the rest of the time I was back on the reception desk. The only duty I was asked to do was help clean down the surgery. More weeks went by and I was still shadowing once a week, which involved standing in the corner doing and saying nothing. The rest of the week I would be doing odd jobs for the practice owner or on reception. My surgery experience wasn’t going the way I hoped and I found myself on the desk more often than not with gaps as long as three to four weeks in surgery.


The practice owner was very unapproachable. Staff members would dread going to his surgery to speak with him. I remember being asked to give his surgery a deep clean when he was in the room. I felt so nervous and intimidated by his presence. After cleaning his room, he went around inspecting my work and made me re-do the surgery. I ended up cleaning the surgery three times, although the first time it was clean enough. This made me feel very small and humiliated. I felt trapped and unable to express my feeling as I was scared of what would happen to my job. I was fresh out of school and didn’t know much about the working world and felt they had taken advantage of my lack of experience. Something had to change as my training was not being taken seriously, so I made the decision to hand in my notice.

New beginnings

I applied to several dental practices in my local area and was offered an interview the next day. On the same day of the interview, I was offered the job, which fill my heart with joy. I stared at the practice the week after and have never looked back. I was enrolled on to a dental nursing course and all my training needs were at last being fulfilled. I was in surgery all the time to shadow a qualified dental nurse to help me with my training. For the first time after almost 12 months into dentistry, I felt like a proper dental nurse. After six weeks of training and shadowing, I was signed off as competent enough to work with the dentist alone. I was given the responsibility of my own surgery and assigned to a dentist with whom I would work with all day every day. This is what I have dreamed of since day one. Before I knew it, I was on the road to qualifying and a successful career in dentistry. My dentist was such a great help throughout my training and was a true mentor, helping me every step of the way and answering all my questions. Leaving the first practices was the best thing I have ever done. I’m now a qualified dental nurse registered with the GDC and have just finished my extended duties course in dental impression taking and now just enrolled on the NEBDN dental radiography course, with a fantastic surgery that I’m proud off and an awesome dentist with whom I have a great working and relationship and count as a friend. To any trainee dental nurses who are not getting the training they expect, I urge them to make that move. You are not alone. Not all dental practice owners are like that. Most are great and will help, encourage and support you. You just need to make that jump.

To write for this series, email Julie Bissett at with your 750-word ‘letter’.