I am delighted to announce the formation of the inaugural board for the Faculty of Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy. Combined, Dental Nurses plus Orthodontic Therapists make up around 50% of the dental workforce, and it is our privilege to represent our registrant communities at the College of General Dentistry.
Our Board brings together a wealth of knowledge and expertise, along with a broad range of experience in general dental practice and beyond, including practice management, NHS and private practice, civilian and military, workforce, postgraduate education, academia, and research, as well as representation from the United Kingdom nations.
Our Board members are:
- Louise Belfield (Chair and member of the College Council)
- Debbie Reed (Vice-Chair)
- Jane Dalgarno
- Angie Heilmann
- Amanda Knight
- Kathryn Marshall
- Sharon Morrow
All of our Board members are passionate volunteers, dedicated to the advancement of career opportunities, recognition of achievement, and parity of esteem for our Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists.
Developing our new Faculty board presents some unique challenges, and with those come unique opportunities. Perhaps more than other registrant categories, Dental Nurse training is varied and diverse; there are multiple qualifications that can lead to GDC registration, and they are typically delivered outside of Higher Education Institutions, which can funnel graduates into well-established career pipelines. Combined with the lack of an obvious direction for career development once qualified, these factors can make the waters of career advancement rather muddy. Therefore, a key objective for our inaugural Faculty board is to implement the newly developed Career Pathways framework, led by our Vice-Chair Debbie Reed.
We have also prioritised development of the Faculty membership pathways for Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists. Our newly developing Faculty membership criteria uphold the highest clinical standards and are relevant and accessible to our community of professionals. It is also important to note that for the first time, all levels of membership and fellowship of the College are open to all dental professionals, and we encourage our eligible members to consider application. Our Career Pathways framework can support our members to meet the different levels of Faculty and College criteria.
However, our Faculty is only as strong as its membership. It is imperative that we work together with our members at all stages of their careers, including trainees and newly qualified members, to develop the Faculty in a direction that serves our community. We are determined that both registrant categories within the Faculty have equivalent voice, and as such we are especially keen to engage with our community of Orthodontic Therapists. We know that amongst our Dental Nurses and Orthodontic Therapists there are many experienced, talented, highly achieving professionals who have made significant impact on patient and public health, and the dental profession. Our ultimate aim as a board is to provide means to fully recognise those contributions, in parity with other registrant categories, and to provide support and guidance for our members to realise their career ambitions to their fullest potential.
Louise Belfield AssocFCGDent is a dental nurse, research scientist, lecturer, Health Education England Dental Clinical Fellow, and National Examination Board for Dental Nurses Trustee. Louise is a member of the College Council, the Professional Affairs Committee and the Membership Admissions Panel.