Objective: To explore the career pathways and continuing professional development of dental nurses employed at one institution relative to the scope of practice.
Method: A questionnaire exploring career pathways and continuing professional development of dental nurses was compiled and delivered to clinical departments. Responses were entered onto SPSS v17 for analysis.
Results: Ninety-eight percent (n = 64) of available nurses responded to the questionnaire survey. Eighty percent (n = 51) of the dental nurses were aged between 25 and 44 years, and 95% (n = 61) were female. The ethnicity of the workforce varied; 58% (n = 37) were White and this consequently constituted the largest ethnic group in the workforce. The dental nurses reported that they chose their profession for a wide variety of reasons, the most common one being the opportunity to progress in the dental sector. Before commencing training 38% (n = 24) were aware of their options for progression; this increased subsequent to training with between 55% (n = 35) and 66% (n = 42), depending on the option, stating that they were aware of their options for progression. Eighty-three percent (n = 53) were trained in an additional skill and all of those who were not (n = 11) stated that they would like this training. Conscious sedation was the most frequently possessed additional skill and radiography was the additional skill in which the highest proportion would like to be trained. Personal satisfaction was the most significant factor affecting the willingness of the workforce to pursue career progression.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that amongst dental nurses employed in one institution there is evidence that the majority benefit from continuing professional development opportunities, possess additional skills and are motivated to further their skills and progress in their careers.