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Features / November 4, 2014

Shining a light on dental nursing

by Guy Hiscott

Irish Dentistry talks to Tina Gorman about how the Irish Dental Nurses Association plans to raise the profile of dental nurses across the country

What can you tell us about the current situation for dental nurses in Ireland?
There is currently no legal requirement to be trained or qualified to work as a dental nurse in this country. The Irish Dental Nurses Association (IDNA) supports the introduction of regulation, which will provide dental nurses ‘fit for purpose’ to meet the demands of the profession, ensuring a safe, patient-centred service.

Preventing infection is of paramount importance in the dental surgery and a vital part of a dental nurse’s role. The IDNA believes regulation will assist in increasing the profile of the dental nurse and the important role they play in implementing any such standards.

What is the main purpose of the IDNA?
The IDNA is a voluntary organisation whose primary aim is to promote, educate and develop dental nurses in Ireland. We promote lobbying to increase the profile of dental nurses within the dental community and amongst regulators. We want to liaise with dental educators to support dental nurses to obtain a formal qualification approved by the Dental Council.

We also want to develop the provision of continuing professional development (CPD) to promote a lifelong learning ethos within our profession.

What is the IDNA doing to improve opportunities for dental nurses in Ireland?
The IDNA is lobbying with the Department of Health and the Dental Council to push for regulation within our profession. We anticipate the introduction of a mandatory register for dental nurses with a legislative change to update the current Dentists Act (1985).

We are already striving to meet any stipulations that this might bring, including the provision of verifiable CPD to the dental nursing community. We provide a very successful recruitment facility to the dental profession, which is very well received by dental practitioners and dental nurses alike. This service is free of charge for IDNA members, and is utilised throughout the country.

I came to Ireland with a vision to raise the profile of dental nurses and to strive for regulation of our profession

Why do you think it is important for dental nurses to register with the Dental Council of Ireland?
The primary role of the Dental Council is to protect the public. In order to do this, it registers accredited qualifications. I feel it is important that dental nurses register as soon as they gain their qualification, thus providing their patients and the general public with reassurances that they have met the educational standards as laid down by the Dental Council.

An advantage of being on the voluntary register is that these individuals will automatically transfer to any mandatory register when it becomes available.

How did you become involved with the IDNA?
I qualified as a dental nurse in Belfast in 1990 and became an active member of my professional organisation, the British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN), upon qualification.

Among other things, the BADN managed the voluntary register for dental nurses at that time, and fought long and hard to get a statutory register for dental nurses with the General Dental Council (GDC). I felt it was important to ensure I was registered to help support this worthwhile cause.

I became a member of the IDNA when I returned to Ireland in 2003 to keep up-to-date with what was going on within my profession. I was invited to join its executive committee and have held various roles since then, including continuing education officer, secretary and now president. It is a privilege to hold this role and to represent the dental nursing profession in Ireland.

What would you like to achieve as president of the IDNA?
I came to Ireland with a vision to raise the profile of dental nurses and to strive for regulation of our profession. As part of my role, I endeavour to make the dental community fully aware of our association and its role, and to ensure we are here to support our members throughout their career.

We also plan to host a full-day event to include our Annual General Meeting on 16 May 2015. We look forward to delivering our second annual joint scientific lecture in February 2015 with the Irish Dental Hygienists Association.

Tina Gorman RDN is a dental nurse and president of the Irish Dental Nurses Association (IDNA). To find out more about the IDNA, visit