Formerly a healthcare assistant, Karn joined Smile Together as our receptionist in Newquay, seeking a new opportunity in a patient-facing environment which she could balance around her family commitments. Four years on, having seen her colleagues enjoying the provision of hands-on patient care each day, she was inspired to progress her career as a dental nurse. Karn successfully secured a trainee dental nurse position in 2022, still based in Newquay.

Karn explains: “As a receptionist I developed a great understanding of our company, our patients and the Dentally Practice Management System that we use, and even some knowledge around dental terminology. For me it’s been a wonderful way to start my career in dentistry and I’ve felt comfortable and confident making the transition to dental nursing, very quickly going solo with the dentist”.

Karn was a familiar face in Newquay so patients attending for regular routine care have enjoyed seeing her career development and progression to dental nursing, happy to see her working alongside the dentist in the surgery environment.

Karn continues: “I absolutely love being able to support our patients with hands-on dental care, seeing them overcome their anxieties and ultimately have a nice time at the dentist! I’m also on hand to support our new receptionist and can be particularly helpful in managing often complex clinical diaries”.

Our dental nurse apprentices and trainees are extremely well supported by the whole Smile Together team, both in the surgery environment and with their learning. They are allocated one day per week to study and encouraged to get together to develop their own mutual support network, which is particularly helpful if it’s remote online learning, as is the case for Karn and her fellow trainees Katie and Maisie.

Our trainee dental nurses are also actively encouraged to engage in the social and environmental impact initiatives that Smile Together delivers in local communities. This has seen Karn supporting our Smiles at Sea harbourside tour providing treatment to fishermen and Health for Homeless pop ups in Newquay. As a shareholder in our employee-owned business she also put her name forward to attend the national Employee Ownership Association conference in Liverpool in October 2022, attending with five other colleagues. She was so inspired that, at the very next opportunity, she successfully stood for election to our Shareholder Impact Board and thoroughly enjoys representing her colleagues.

In November 2023 Karn won the Society of British Dental Nurses award for ‘early career contribution’ during National Dental Nurses Day – well-deserved recognition of her outstanding commitment and achievements so far on behalf of our patients, our community and our people. Such is her dedication that Karn even opted to work on her birthday this year, supporting #SmilesatSeaUK in Newquay!

Karn is keen to continue developing and progressing her dental nursing career by gaining experience across the full range of services provided at Smile Together – everything from urgent and emergency care, orthodontics, minor oral surgery and routine private care to paediatrics and special care including GA sessions at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust. Once qualified she also intends extending her contribution by supporting our out of hours service, evenings and weekends.

Karn concludes: “Joining Smile Together was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Not only does the company provide rewarding careers for local people but every day we make a real difference to others. I’m so proud to work here”.

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