Advanced Apprenticeship (NVQ)

The framework for the AA in Dental Nursing was approved by Skills for Health in December 2007; which was then implemented in January 2008. Skills for Health have a comprehensive document that sets out the Framework; this provides information on the mandatory outcomes of the framework and also the rationale, content and implementation of the Framework.

The Advanced Apprenticeship (AA) is made up of 3 components of learning and development:

  • Technical Certificate (Level 3 Award in Dental Nursing Vocationally Related Qualification VRQ)
  • Level 3 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Oral Health Care: Dental Nursing
  • 2 key skills (KS) Communication and Application of Number (replaced with Functional Skills in September 2010)
  • Functional Skills Level 2 in English and Maths

Also included in the Framework are Employers Rights and Responsibilities (ERR)

Technical Certificate

The Level 3 Award in Dental Nursing allows learners to develop the knowledge required for employment as a dental nurse. This qualification is aimed at assessing the underpinning knowledge in four key areas of the wider dental nursing curriculum. Thus providing apprentices with the important knowledge and understanding prior to work-based assessment. The four key areas are:

  • Principles of infection control in the dental environment
  • Assessment of oral health and treatment planning
  • Dental radiography
  • Scientific principles in the management of plaque related diseases

The examination for the technical certificate is held three times per year in March, June and December

NVQ & Work based Assessment

The NVQ component is an in practice assessment system, which when combined with a technical certificate meets the GDC requirements of a recognised registrable qualification. Whilst working towards these qualifications this enables a student dental nurse to work legally in the UK and on completion of these qualifications the dental nurse can then register with the GDC. The NVQ is made up of 11 units, 3 core competences and 8 dental nursing specific.

Observation by an assessor or expert witness will be the main method used to assess the work based competence of the apprentice. An expert witness is an occupationally competent dental professional, who will observe the apprentice and provide testimony of their work-based performance.

An employer of an Advanced Modern Apprentice needs to be aware of the competences involved, thus enabling you to ensure the apprentice is undertaking relevant work-based tasks, which can be assessed to measure their work-based competence relating to their dental nursing practice. The units of competence within the NVQ part of the AMA dental nursing are as follows:

  • Ensure your own actions reduce the risk to health & safety
  • Reflect on and develop your own practice
  • Provide basic life support (simulation accepted)
  • Prepare and maintain environments, instruments, and equipment for clinical dental procedures
  • Offer information and support to individuals on the protection of their oral health (simulation accepted)
  • Provide chairside support during the assessment of a patients’ oral health ( includes charting)
  • Contribute to the production of dental radiographs
  • Provide chairside support during the prevention and control of periodontal disease and caries, and the restoration of cavities
  • Provide chairside support during the provision of fixed and removable appliances
  • Provide chairside support during non surgical endodontic treatment
  • Provide chairside support during the extraction of teeth and minor oral surgery

It is important that the apprentice is undertaking the work of a dental nurse which is included in the occupational competences listed above, thus ensuring the required observation of work based practice can be undertaken. However, simulation is acceptable for two of the competences identified above. Simulations will be undertaken within the college dental nurse training facilities when required. Special arrangements will be required to be put in place for student dental nurses who work in specialist practices e.g. orthodontics

The employer’s cooperation is essential to support the observation of the candidate in the workplace. Protected time to allow the assessor or expert witness to feedback to the apprentice regarding their work based performance is vital, as feedback is a fundamental part of the assessment process. This protected time also allows for essential extended questioning to ascertain their knowledge and understanding regarding the work task they have just completed.

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