Pearl Trains: Dental Nurse Apprentices, Derby College

photo - student dental nurses at Derby College

Pearl Trains: Dental Nurse Apprentices, Derby College

Following on from the articles by Cary Cray-Webb and Molly Sibson about nurse training and retention that we published in our blog, Ben (the managing director of Pearl), was invited by Molly’s colleagues at Derby College to run a digital charting workshop with Ru Boyle (dental assessor and practicing hygienist) and the nurse apprenticeship team.

Here is an account of his day of teaching and the importance of increasing the presence of digital dentistry in the curriculum.

Morning Motivation

I was invited to Derby College to run a short workshop on using dental software as part of the college’s dental nurse apprenticeship programme. With the knowledge that only comes from installing software in countless practices, I arrived a few hours early to ensure ample time to fix the inevitable ‘I-never-thought-this-would-be-an-issue, computer says no’ problems. The culprit this time was a blazing firewall, which we managed to tackle relatively quickly, just in time for lunch.

photo - Derby College

The training session took place in The Roundhouse, Derby College, which is a repurposed 19th-century railway building

My motivation for running this session was to help overcome the lack of formal dental software training that new staff members experience when joining a practice. With GDPR coming into effect, more and more paper-based practices are opting to computerise some, if not all, of their workflow. For many dental nurse programmes, hands-on experience with dental software is scarce. Although a few of the nurses had already had some on-the-job experience with software systems such as SOE (Software of Excellence) and R4, I wanted to give them the opportunity to hone their software skills in a relaxed learning environment.

The Teaching Session

I was teaching a relatively new intake of nurses. I found it was a useful learning experience for myself as I learnt much about how users, who are not only new to dental software but also new to dentistry, reacted to using our system Pearl Dental.

Ru and I started with a brief overview of how to record clinical findings such as charting and perio. After that, we let them loose with a worksheet detailing some charting exercises. Nervous about how they were going to find our system and adjusting to digital charting, I was pleasantly surprised that everyone managed to complete the charts with few problems, though I’d like to give credit for the success to Ru, who has had lots of experience with both training dental nurses and hands-on experience with computer systems. Ru was also invaluable in leading the clinical discussion and ensuing questions that came out of the exercise.

photo - student dental nurses at Derby College

Ben Baker with the Derby College nurse apprenticeship team

With the charting exercises completed the student nurses were able to print out the charts and treatment plans they had made to add to the portfolios required for their apprenticeship scheme. The overall experience was very positive.

Although we only covered part of the system I feel the nurses gained a great deal of confidence and experience to take back to whatever software system they may end up using. As we all know, computer software is extremely common in practice now but can be a bit of a shock to the system the first time you encounter something new or unfamiliar. By giving them the basics on Pearl, although this may not be their current weapon of choice, the skills are easily transferable to other software systems.

Looking to the Future

For me personally, teaching at Derby College was a great experience. Although nervous to begin with, the whole group and teaching staff made me feel at ease. The nurses shared some of their experiences with software training which gave me some interesting ideas for Pearl training plans in the future, to ensure new users have effective and enjoyable training days.

Moving forward, I would love to work closely with Derby College again, and other colleges providing nurse training programs, to encourage software to be a more comfortable part of the curriculum as practices take a more digitised approach to dentistry.

To find out more about Pearl or to talk to us about using Pearl as a teaching tool please call us on 0116 274 9995 or email .


Ben Baker