In just 18 months, Anika Mohammed has gone from apprentice dental nurse to head nurse at her practice. She completed a Level 3 dental nursing qualification at BMet while working at Village Dental Surgery in Birmingham.

“Never in a million years would I have expected to do so well in my career this early on,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s a fantastic opportunity. I love my role and the responsibilities that come with it.”

As part of her apprenticeship, Anika learned to support dental nurses and surgeons when they were seeing patients for check-ups and during surgeries. She was also tasked with taking care of medical equipment; preparing and sterilising instruments as well as welcoming patients on reception and keeping their records up to date.

The apprenticeship included one day a week at college where she studied health promotion, clinical skills, first aid and practice management.

“I left school without really knowing what I wanted to do,” continued Anika. “Most of my friends had chosen to study health and social care at college so I just followed them into it. I realised pretty quickly I didn’t want to be in class all day every day.

“I’d always seen myself as a practical person and had started to think about apprenticeships. About a week after I got in touch with BMet about dental nurse roles, they’d found this job for me.

“Dental nursing isn’t just about cleaning patients’ teeth. It’s about getting to know people and in some cases, such as when someone dreads getting into the dentist’s chair, it’s about getting them to trust you.

“It can be challenging to explain to children that their oral health is linked to other serious medical conditions. You have to find different ways for them to take in what you’re saying. And with some patients you have to convince them to change their diet and lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s about making people look and feel better in the long run.”

From the moment she joined the practice, Anika was closely observing her colleagues at work, taking notes and asking lots of questions. The surgery’s head nurse saw how keen she was and gave Anika extra responsibilities, which she loved.

She said: “I helped out more and more and even stayed behind after hours to make sure the surgeries were clean and tidy, ready for the next day’s patients. When the head nurse left, the practice manager approached me about taking on the role and I said yes straight away.

“Becoming head nurse has been amazing. There are parts of the business I’m keen to develop. Then maybe after that I’ll look at improving my knowledge through courses in radiography, which is the next level up. I’ll also be helping to train the next dental nurse apprentice that joins us.”

Fatima Idtnaine, practice manager at Village Dental Surgery said: “It is rare for someone fairly new to the industry to become head nurse but Anika was the ideal person for the role. She was using her initiative more and more to the point that I found myself relying on her for things, as did many others in our team.”

She continued: “The practice itself is fully behind apprenticeships and apprenticeship programmes. We see it as giving someone a chance to see if they really are suited to a certain job and career. If they are serious about it, they will give 100% to their role and we know we’ll get the best out of them.

“Anika herself has proven that with training and encouragement and of course the desire to learn, you will succeed.”

BMet

As a leading provider of further and higher education in the Midlands, Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet) has links with over 800 employers, including numerous large global companies, and partnerships with leading universities.

Never in a million years would I have expected to do so well in my career this early on, It’s a fantastic opportunity. I love my role and the responsibilities that come with it