Hi guys!

My name is Karenn, I am a graduate DTH from the 2019 generation at the University of Plymouth.

I work in two mixed practices for a big Corporate that allow me to use my full scope.

During my time as student, I wish I had the opportunity to hear from some graduate DTHs about what life was like after graduation. 

Sadly I did not, hence why I've written this blog and am sharing my experience as a graduate DTH, why not!

So, how are you doing?

Are you sleeping enough?

Have you made peace with EBL (that's Enquiry-Based Learning for non-dental readers)? 

I remember my time at the University of Plymouth.... it was frenetic... but fun!

I have been asked several questions about what it is like to work as a newly qualified DTH. It is difficult to answer all of them in just one blog so I have selected the most popular ones. So let's get into it!

What it is like to work full time as a newly qualified DTH?

In all honesty, I did feel a bit uneasy to start with. I even questioned myself, was I ready to work?

At first, it seemed like my days were way too busy to cope, too much to achieve in a single appointment.

In my mind, I processed a thousand things simultaneously; never leave home without breakfast, provide treatment to 16 to 18 patients, keep to 30 to 40 minutes per appointment,  take a lunch break, remember to drink water, make time to use the ladies room, focus on your patient whilst also looking after your nurse, discuss the patient’s treatment plan with the referring dentist, make time for peer reviews with other with clinicians, and, most importantly, keep breathing…

It does sound incredibly stressful but, little that I knew, by the second week I felt like a pro!

The spiral dental learning program that the University of Plymouth has in place is fantastic!

EBL, SDLE (Simulated Dental Learning Enviroment), early patient exposure, self-learning, exit cases, all of it made me the therapist I am today.

I can assure you, you do have what it takes to be a good dental therapist and hygienist. Do not doubt yourself, all you need is to believe in yourself and in the necessary knowledge and skills you gained at university. The whole dental learning system will make sense in the end.

You will laugh, but I must confess, to this day during each dental appointment I have there is a mini EBL going on in my brain!

Is it easy to find work?

The answer is yes! There is plenty of work for everyone!

Whether you are looking for a small practice or a corporate, on NHS, Private, or a mix, there is a place for all.

Recently some of the big Corporates (which I cannot name due to their rules) renewed their dental team setting policy, highlighting the need for a minimum of one dental therapist per dental practice. In the place I work there are two on each practice.

So, there is no need to be worried about this!

Did you struggle to cope with 30 minute appointments?

The truth is yes, at first. During my first week, I run late with an hour, it was quite stressful but by the second week I picked it up and now I absolutely enjoy it.

You feel a great sense of achievement once you get the hang of it. And now I even have 5 minutes to spare!

Do you have a nurse?

Yes and no. Prior to COVID19, I had a nurse in one of the practices and in the other one only if I really need it (e.g. when I need to take records of 6 Point Pocket Chart).

Now, one of the good things about COVID19, is that every dental procedure will be carried out using the 4 hands method, so we will always have a nurse. Hurray!

Let us hope this will still be a must post COVID19.

Do you have help from dentists if you stuck with treatments?

Yes, I am fortunate to have such a supportive team in both practices.  Your team will know that you are new and hence they will be helpful and patient with you. You just need to communicate with them.

How are you finding working as DTH? Do you like it?

Working as DTH is so satisfying, I absolutely love my job.

Patients are understanding, kind, and they do listen to your advice.

How are you coping with COVID19?

My view is that in every bad situation there must be something positive, no matter how harsh the conditions are.

In the dental world, currently, there are policies coming out from every angle - the CDO, NHS, FDGP, Scottish guidelines, and on top of that your corporate or private practice and the Government.

We must listen carefully to advice and act responsibly. As clinicians we must use our clinical judgement, these words are specifically highlighted within various organisations' advice.

As it stands, only dentists are being allowed to practice dentistry and when absolutely necessary and based on patient’s risk assessment a periodontal treatment is been carried out.  Due to the complexity of the whole situation, currently, there is not much dental hygienist and therapist can do.

For DHs and DTHs in England all is static at the moment, but based on the current situation, I am confident there would be even more need for our services post COVID19. In the long term there is a bright future for us, do not be disheartened.

This pandemic has given us time off work, we need to use it to our advantage and work on the projects we always wanted to do.  

During the lockdown, I have completed my 5 years CPD cycle. I will need further updates on various topics (especially with COVID19) but it is great to know that I do not need to worry for now.

I have also been perfecting my dental morphology by drawing and carving wax models and practising hand scaling on eggs. Recently, I became a clinical caseworker for the NHS to help with the battle against COVID19.

In my personal life, I have been widening my cooking skills on various cuisines and have been doing more weightlifting at home in my DIY gym! I have also been grateful for more family time with my husband and cat. None of these would have been possible otherwise.

My last piece of advice to you would be to focus on your career. It will be hard sometimes, especially with this pandemic, but it will all be worth it at the end!


Ps: I am here to help you, drop me a message or an email on my Instagram page if you want to know more or have any questions. My handle is @smileofpearls.