Fiona talks about the dental team as a whole and the value of engaging with the dental ‘Team’. It is important that each member of the dental team is recognised in terms of patient outcomes and excellence in dental care and treatments.
There is a need to look at and rethink the whole essence of the dental team and embrace its’ members and the skills they have and can bring to the table. Accepting that dentistry has a diverse workforce and many variables across an enormous sector of specialist fields, it would seem to be a poignant time to further embrace the ‘Team’.
The dental team and its’ members are central to current research projects and thinking, in at least two of our Nations and rightly so, given that they are in fact the largest registrable group and a group that are often underutilised. The workforce conundrum that we face affects us all and by looking closer at the resources to hand, many of the answers are perhaps closer to home than we think.
I wonder how many truly know and understand the current Scope of Practice of each of the registrable groups? A small study group that I recently spoke to would have me believe that the Scope of Practice framework leaves and creates grey areas, the blurring of boundaries and often leaves its’ audience befuddled. This was true of not only individuals own scope of practice but also the scope of practice of the wider team. Of course, the pushing of boundaries and widening of scope is not embraced by all and has at times been problematic. Time does not stand still, services change as do expectations, demands and trends from within and from patient’s themselves; let us not forget the advancement of materials, techniques and technology along the way.
Team working, skill-mix, role substitution, however we frame this so called ‘working better together’ are not new concepts, direct access is more recent, and the work being undertaken to bring about exemptions in terms of prescribing is on-going. There is some truly exciting work going on out there that the whole team can contribute towards, if only we could encourage the planning to look at the ‘who’ element.
On this note I would like to introduce the dental team as identified by the regulators as being made up of the: Dental Nurse, Orthodontic Therapist, Dental Hygienist, Dental Technician, Dental Therapist, Clinical Dental Technician and the Dentist. Let us not forget the wider dental team members i.e. the practice manager and the administrators to name but a few, and the value they all add to providing excellent dental care.