The revised Apprenticeship Framework to include an advanced Dental Nursing pathway has recently been approved by Welsh Government for use in the dental sector in Wales.
The new pathway was developed by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), NHS and independent dental employers, along with other stakeholders including professional and regulatory bodies, training providers and awarding bodies. The All Wales Faculty for Dental Care Professionals, a body funded by Welsh Government and hosted by Bangor University also significantly contributed to the work. The framework development was project managed by Skills for Health who, as the Sector Skills Council are the Issuing Authority for Welsh apprenticeships for the health sector.
Kirstie Moons, Associate Director for Dental Team Workforce Planning and Development, HEIW said: “This is an exciting development demonstrating true partnership working between the dental sector in Wales, Welsh Government and Skills for Health. This Framework will provide a much-needed quality training route for registered Dental Nurses. It will also facilitate dental nursing career opportunities with the achievement of accredited, transferable knowledge and skills.”
There are approximately 2,880 Dental Nurses in Wales and an increasing number are being trained each year. The Dental Nursing Apprenticeship Framework now includes training routes at both levels 3 and 4 and provides quality assured training to achieve the qualified standard required by the General Dental Council, the regulatory body that dental nurses must be registered with in order to practice once qualified. The new level 4 pathway includes a new advanced qualification developed by Bangor University.
The role of a Dental Nurse is varied. Primarily, a Dental Nurse provides chairside support to dentists and other members of the dental team. Some Dental Nurses undertake additional duties and further qualifications to widen their scope of practice and clinical competence such as taking impressions, application of topical fluoride, taking radiographs and providing oral health education.
Dental Nurses work under the prescription of a dentist and can be employed in general practice, hospitals, prisons, community dental services and the armed forces and there are a range of post registration courses and options available to Dental Nurses looking to progress their career.
This revised framework has been developed to meet the needs for the introduction of an advanced dental nursing role in Wales and supports the broad vision of the sector to develop an increasingly skilled, flexible and effective dental nursing workforce, whilst maintaining high quality and safe patient-centred care. This aligns with current Welsh Government plans for reforming the NHS dental system, using the Prudent Healthcare principles introduced to the NHS in Wales. It also provides a positive route for attracting and retaining staff into the dental sector.
Dawn Probert, Skills for Health said: “Skills for Health were very pleased to be involved in the development of this new advanced pathway in the apprenticeship framework and work in partnership with the dental sector who can utilise this route to both attract, retain and develop staff in this valuable and essential area of work”.
The framework has been published and is now available to view on the Apprenticeship Certification Wales website.
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