Nikki Dalziel

Senior Sister, Maxillo facial and Orthodontic Unit, Kettering General Hospital

I qualified as a registered nurse in 1993 and for most of my career have worked in the field of surgery and endoscopy, finally becoming a theatre sister for 9 years. Four years ago I decided to make a complete career change and moved to a senior sister’s post in a small maxillofacial and orthodontic outpatient department.

There are 23 of us in the direct team, consisting of both registered and dental nurses, health care assistants and several clinic coordinators/ clerical officers. We work in conjunction with a much larger team of clinical nurse specialists, lab technicians, secretaries, doctors and service managers while working closely with our fellow departments within the Head and Neck sector.

When I started in 2017, the department was in a small area that had not been developed in a long time. There were plans to build a new unit, however these were in their infancy. Over the following 2 years, we planned the new build and new services to accompany this, moving into our new premises May 2019.  Our new department consists of 2 orthodontic rooms, 2 minor oral surgery rooms, 2 consulting rooms a small recovery room, a trauma room and an x-ray facility. We also have attached to the unit our own lab which is managed separately but the 2 services feed into each other.

Since moving, a lot of our work has become more digital, which has been helped by training our dental nurses to take x-rays and cone beam CTs and uplifting their banding to reflect this. The imaging, along with further lab intervention, allows for patient treatment planning to be done on digital platforms, leading to a higher level of accuracy as well as giving patients a better understanding of their treatment outcome.

We have also taken on the local anaesthetic skin cancer lists from the theatre complex, which allows our patients to have better continuity of care and experience. This again has involved a large training need, which has been met and the service is now fully functional.

The last 2 years though have been exciting have also been very challenging for the whole team. Comfort zones have been tested and pushed; staff have had to embrace whole new ways of working whilst training for their new roles. Then Covid hit and any settlement was thrown off kilter again as staff were redeployed and a skeleton service remained. There is now a more settled atmosphere within the team and all staff are back working in the department. New roles are now accepted and the services are growing again.

The Inspire Improvement Fellowship Programme ethos of engaging with and developing myself, is exactly what we need at this time. I feel that with our recent development/covid, the team’s enthusiasm has waned and my leadership/transitional ‘arsenal’ is now empty.  We all need to stop, reflect and have our passion reignited. The hands on, positive approach, which attracted me to the programme, will help me to re-engage and in turn the staff. This will help us with the next phase of our growth as we already have ideas to develop and grow both our staff and the service further.

For more information, contact n[email protected]