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Duties and training of dental nurses: How do Irish practices conform to European standards?

Lynch, Christopher Daniel, O'Byrne, M. T., McConnell, R. J. and Neville, K. 2008. Duties and training of dental nurses: How do Irish practices conform to European standards? Community Dental Health 25 (2) , pp. 98-102. 10.1922/CDH_2090Lynch05

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Aim The dental nurse is a key member of the dental team, having an important role in the delivery of oral healthcare. Despite this, there is considerable variation throughout Europe in relation to the level of training, permitted duties, and statutory registration of dental nurses. The purpose of this paper is to describe the opinions and attitudes of dental nurses to their roles and suitability of training in one European member state, Ireland, where statutory registration has recently been introduced. Method A postal questionnaire was sent to 150 dental practitioners selected from the Irish Register of Dentists. The dentists were asked to distribute questionnaire to dental nurse(s) working in their practice. Information sought from the dental nurses included their employment setting, the nature of their employment, their level of training, additional qualifications held, their views on the key duties and responsibilities of a dental nurse, and the appropriate duration and content of a dental nurse training programme. Results Replies were received from 96 dental nurses (response rate=64%). Fifty-five percent of respondents (n=53) were employed in private practice, 39% (n=37) were employed in the Health Board Dental Service, and 6% (n=6) were employed in a dental hospital. Two thirds of respondents (n=62) had been employed as dental nurses for more than five years. Eighty-six percent of respondents (n=83) were in full-time employment. Seventy-three percent of respondents (n=70) held a recognised dental nurse qualification. Sixty-five percent of respondents (n=70) who held a dental nurse qualification felt that the appropriate duration of a dental nurse training programme was one year or less. Thirty-two percent of respondents (n=30) had completed additional training in practice management, administration or computer skills. Ninety-five percent of respondents (n=91) were interested in attending continuing education courses. Eighty-five percent of respondents (n= 82) felt that assistance at the administration of local anaesthetics was a key duty/responsibility for dental nurses, while only 20% of respondents (n=19) felt that infection control procedures was a key duty. Conclusions Within the group of dental nurses surveyed, there was a lack of clarity surrounding their perception of their key duties. This could present challenges to the effective delivery of oral healthcare regimens within Ireland. Further investigation of this situation in other European countries is indicated.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dental nurse, dentistry, education, training, healthcare systems
Publisher: Barber
ISSN: 0265-539X
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2017 02:59

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