The apprenticeship framework for dental nurses in Wales has now been revised to include a new advanced dental nursing pathway. The new addition hopes to provide opportunities for those hoping to advance in their role and supports the goals set out by the Welsh government to create a highly skilled workforce in the dental sector. Dental nursing is a varied role with many opportunities to specialise and train whilst on the job. This new pathway will be offered at level 4 and will give prospective nurses a new route to further their career. The pathway, brought together by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), training providers, awarding bodies and the NHS has been established to reform the current dental system and meet the needs of a rapidly growing sector.
Having access to opportunities that promote career growth may help put a stop to the exodus of staff leaving the profession. Many nurses left 2020 feeling unsupported and underappreciated with little hope in seeing any career progression. These reasons could possibly be why many nurses decided not to re-register with the GDC last year. The added pressures of COVID-19 only made it all too real that it was time to go. With the introduction of this new pathway comes an opportunity for nurses to level-up and boost their earning potential. The demand for dental services are high, particularly now as post-pandemic waiting lists burst at the seams. People are increasingly interested in seeking dental assistance which is why it’s absolutely essential that a skilled workforce are prepared to meet those demands. The advanced nursing pathway gives nurses an opportunity to grow their careers by boosting their skillset. This initiative could potentially improve the variety of opportunities available within dental practice thus hopefully creating more of an incentive for staff to stay.
The new framework intends to support nurses by helping them build a broad range of skills through training within their chosen area of expertise. The scheme will boost their competency in the workplace whilst also giving them essential transferable skills that they can utilise in the practice. They receive guaranteed training in and outside of the workplace allowing them to further their career at an advanced level. Currently, nurses embark on a level 3 course either at college or university to become a fully qualified dental nurse after 2 years of training. The new advanced pathway, offered at level 4, will also be offered at university and will enable nurses to fast-forward their career into positions such as dental nurse leaders or tutors. The entry requirements ask that you have 5 GCSEs at grade C or equivalent and all the necessary personal attributes that are expected of a dental nurse such as being compassionate, conscientious and caring. Awarded by Bangor University, the new course will start in the 2021/2022 academic year and will sit on the Welsh Apprenticeship Framework making it free to anyone who is eligible to register.