Just the job for dental apprentice Sarah

Becoming a Modern Apprentice gave 18-year-old Sarah Mackenzie a second chance to get into a career in dental nursing – and her self-confidence back.

Sarah had to give up on her first traineeship at a dental teaching hospital because of exceptional circumstances, though she really enjoyed the practical element of her training.

Fate stepped in when a neighbour told Sarah, from Kirkintilloch, that Millersneuk Dental Practice in Lenzie was looking for someone to help provide cover for a dental nurse on maternity leave.

Despite being apprehensive, Sarah took the plunge and submitted her CV to Millersneuk, one of a group of five practices operating throughout the central belt of Scotland.

Sarah became the ninth trainee dental nurse hired by the group to study with New College Lanarkshire on the Modern Apprentice programme or on full-time study.

The combination of learning practical skills in the surgery, supportive colleagues and strong one-to-one guidance through visits at work every month by a New College Lanarkshire assessor has seen Sarah flourish.

Sarah’s Modern Apprenticeship has involved creating a portfolio of evidence – her Record of Experience – to show she has successfully completed a number of tasks. She’s also passed the external dental nursing exam - SVQ level 3 in Dental Nursing.

These two qualifications - which Sarah’s lecturers say she has achieved to a very high standard - enable her to register with the General Dental Council, the regulatory body for dentists and dental care professionals in the UK.

Sarah said: “After having to give up the teaching hospital training, I wasn’t feeling good about myself and didn’t know what to do. I thought I’d just go back to college to do more Highers until I heard about the Millersneuk vacancy.

“I was totally honest with the practice manager, Caroline, about why I left my first training place and she understood why I could not finish the course there. Being a Modern Apprentice has been exactly the right way for me to learn.”

Caroline Campbell, group practice manager at Millersneuk Dental Practice, said: “I’ve worked with several modes of training and I definitely feel that we get a much better quality of students through working with New College Lanarkshire, including through Modern Apprenticeships.”

Kate Wilson, dental curriculum quality leader with New College Lanarkshire, said Sarah was a ‘great ambassador’ for the dental nursing profession. Kate added that modern apprenticeships were brilliant for students who want to get into careers through a route other than full-time education.