Cavity Dental Staff Blog

Exploring the Realm of Agency Locum Dental Nursing: A Comprehensive Guide

26th Feb 2024
Agency Locum Dental Nursing

In the world of dental healthcare, the role of agency locum dental nurses is gaining status, offering a flexible and diverse career path. For those curious about this unique avenue, here’s an in-depth exploration of the various components :

1. Understanding Agency Locum Dental Nursing

An agency locum dental nurse is a professional employed by an agency rather than a specific dental practice or as a self-employed individual. This unconventional employment model entails working across different dental practices, offering support where coverage is needed

2. Qualifications and Prerequisites

While specific qualifications beyond being fully registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) aren't mandatory, having additional specializations in dentistry can broaden opportunities. The emphasis is on being a qualified and GDC-registered dental nurse.

3. Distinctive Features of Agency Locum Dental Nursing

  • Working in diverse settings, including dental practices, hospitals, community clinics, and even prisons.
  • Collaboration with various clinicians.
  • Flexibility to choose work hours and coverage areas.
  • Submission of timesheets for worked hours.
  • Participation in a national team of dental nurses.
  • A week that unfolds with unique experiences, spanning general and specialist dentistry.
  • Abundant opportunities for skill expansion across various dental domains.

4. Flexibility in Work Schedule

The nature of agency work grants remarkable flexibility, allowing nurses to align their work hours with personal commitments. Adjustments to work hours can be discussed with the area manager to accommodate changing circumstances.

5. Compensation Insights

Agency pay tends to be higher due to the flexibility of dental nurses to travel and work in different locations. The pay structure varies across agencies, each offering unique benefits.

6. Indemnity Insurance Considerations

The requirement for personal indemnity insurance varies between agencies. Agencies often provide guidance, and some, like Cavity, offer a bonus to regular nurses in July, covering GDC registration and indemnity costs.

7. Work Placement Allocation and Duration

Work placements are typically based on contractual agreements with the agency, with weekly rotas sent out to nurses. Cavity, for instance, ensures a minimum of 6 hours a day unless the nurse specifies availability for a shorter duration.

8. Freedom to Choose Work Locations

Agency locum dental nurses enjoy the freedom to choose the areas, days, and types of practices they wish to work in, allowing for a personalized and varied work experience.

9. Pension Contributions

Pension contributions depend on the agency, subject to specific conditions. Cavity, for example, provides a contribution to the staff pension scheme after the initial 3 months, contingent on the nurse's contribution.

10. Opportunities for Advancement

Working in an agency opens doors for professional development, enabling nurses to acquire expertise in various dental specialties. The exposure ranges from sedation and orthodontics to oral surgery, implants, and endodontics.

11. Accessibility Without a Car

Not having a car is not a barrier to being a locum dental nurse. Agencies like Cavity accommodate nurses who use public transport, walking, cycling, or other means. The booking team assists in ensuring suitable transport options.

12. Balancing Work and Child Responsibilities

Agency work provides the flexibility for nurses with child responsibilities. Nurses can choose their working hours, and with agreed-upon shift durations, organizing childcare around predictable schedules becomes feasible.

13. Shift Notification and Changes

Nurses receive a weekly rota outlining their placements, and changes are communicated in advance. Practices cancelled or changed will be discussed with the nurse, ensuring transparency.

14. Expectations of Nurses by Dentists

Dentists seek proactive and enthusiastic agency nurses who can efficiently perform daily duties. Flexibility and adaptability are valued, recognizing that a working relationship may take time to develop.

15. Handling Challenges with Clinicians

Effective communication is key in resolving issues with clinicians. If conflicts persist, contacting the Regional Manager for intervention and potential reassignment is a viable option.

16. Holiday Options

Agency locum nurses can opt for paid holidays or a higher hourly rate that includes holiday pay. Flexibility allows nurses to tailor their holiday arrangements to suit personal preferences.

17. Specialization and Work Placement

Nurses are typically not assigned to specialized practices unless they express an interest in expanding their skills. Cavity ensures a positive experience by aligning placements with nurses' expertise and preferences.

18. Travel Cost Support

Agencies often reimburse a percentage of public transport costs and pay so much per mile for round trips exceeding 20 miles by car. We will also reimburse your parking expenses and tolls providing you have a valid VAT receipt for your claims.

19. Annual Leave Entitlement

Nurses are entitled to a pro-rated equivalent of 28 days of annual leave. Flexibility in agency work allows for taking time off as agreed with the Regional Manager.

20. Uniform and Associated Benefits

At Cavity, we provide uniforms, including scrubs and fleeces and nurses are able to claim a uniform laundry allowance from HMRC annually.

21. Sabbatical and Periodic Work

Agencies like Cavity support nurses in taking sabbaticals or working only during specific periods. This flexibility allows nurses to pursue other interests or academic pursuits.

22. Financial Assistance

Cavity acknowledges the financial aspects of dental nursing and offers an annual bonus to regular staff working for a year. This bonus helps cover GDC registration and indemnity costs.

23. Communication Channels

Agencies maintain open lines of communication through various channels. Nurses can reach out via telephone, text, email, or a staff app. The app facilitates interactions with different team members, fostering a sense of community.

24. Socialization and Networking

Agencies often provide platforms, such as staff apps, for nurses to stay connected, share experiences, and build professional networks. These forums contribute to a supportive community.

25. Sustainability of Agency Work

As the largest dental agency in the UK, Cavity's growth and sustained service quality reflect the demand for agency work. Nurses can evaluate sustainability based on personal and financial needs, with the option to commit for a trial period.

26. Incentives and Benefits

Cavity offers various incentives and benefits, including wellness days, celebration days, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), an annual bonus, and communication through different platforms.

27. Equipment Familiarity and Learning Curve

Encountering new equipment in different practices is a common occurrence. Nurses are advised not to operate unfamiliar equipment and await guidance from practice staff, ensuring safe and effective use.

28. Initiating the Journey

Starting a career as an agency locum dental nurse involves contacting the agency through phone, email, or online forms, followed by CV submission. An interview and compliance checks finalize the process before starting assignments.

Embarking on the path of agency locum dental nursing offers a unique and rewarding career journey, with each placement bringing new experiences and opportunities for growth. The flexibility, diverse work environments, and continuous professional development make agency nursing an enticing option for those seeking a dynamic and fulfilling career in dentistry.


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