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Registered Dental Nurses (RDNs) work as part of a dental team in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings. The term Registered Dental Nurse (RDN) has a defined meaning within the United Kingdom. From 30 July 2008, all qualified Dental Nurses in the UK must be registered with the GDC General Dental Council to continue working legally. They must also hold the NEBDN National Diploma or another recognised qualification.
Dental nurses in the UK
A Registered Dental Nurse is a highly skilled member of the dental team. Entry is competitive and students must pass continuous assessments before being able to sit their final examinations. Employers, including hospitals and the Community Dental Service or NHS, require all student Dental Nurses to have obtained a nationally recognised qualification, following the GDC (General Dental Council) Dental Care Professionals guidlelines.
Qualifications recognized by the GDC for registration after 30 July 2013 are:
- The National Diploma awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN)
- Higher National Diploma in Dental Nursing awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority)
- NVQ Level 3 in Oral Healthcare
- SVQ Level 3 in Oral Healthcare
A small proportion of student Dental Nurses start their career in a hospital. They will attend lectures, usually at a school of dental nursing several times a week. Their practical experience is gained from placements on specialists clinics within the hospital. As a rule, at the end of their training period, they are required to take a hospital proficiency test preceding the NEBDN examination.
The NEBDN National Diploma is awarded to student Dental Nurses who have successfully passed both examinations and completed two years of full-time surgery experience.
The NEBDN exam consists of a written paper and OSCE (practical examination).
The NVQ level 3 in oral healthcare is a qualification that has been approved by the NEBDN. The NVQ however is only recognised in the UK, whereas the NEBDN National Diploma may be recognized abroad and in Australia, Canada and the USA.