BSc in Dental Nursing opens up practice opportunity for Douglas


Douglas Fyffe recently completed his BSc in Dental Nursing at our Coatbridge Campus.

And he’s already putting his qualification to use since dental surgeries were able to reopen to patients in July.

Douglas works in his father’s dental practice in Alexandria – and his long-term goal is to use his qualification to take over his dad’s business on his retirement.

He said: “My dad is a dentist and when he mentioned about three years ago that he was thinking of retiring it was almost like an epiphany.

“He’d spent 40 years building up his practice and I thought that’s what I want to do – I want to keep his name going and support the family business.

“I thought that I was a bit late to go down the dentistry route, but I can certainly get involved in the business side of things.

“My dad is delighted and it was really nice to see his reaction when I told him my idea.”

Douglas had planned on becoming a PE teacher after leaving school, but his career as a fitness instructor in the leisure industry plateaued.

He worked for the Royal Mail as a postman for a year before making the decision to apply to New College Lanarkshire.

In 2018-19, Douglas completed HNC Dental Nursing, travelling from his home in West Dunbartonshire to our Coatbridge Campus two days per week during term-time.

He completed his final units of the Dental Nursing degree at home during lockdown.

Douglas added: “For me, personally, the transition wasn’t too bad as we had been submitting our coursework online throughout the year.

“The obvious difference was, of course, not having the time with the lecturers – but they were always available via email and telephone if we required assistance.

“I’ve always been fairly self-motivated and understand the importance of putting the hours, work and research into coursework.”

Why did you choose NCL?

“I applied online and New College Lanarkshire got back to me quicker than other training providers in this field – and I was offered an interview within a week of applying. I was a bit worried at first because it was a completely new career, so I applied for the lowest level and thought I would start from the very beginning, just so that I didn’t miss anything. But the lecturer who interviewed me thought that I would be more suited to HNC level.

“From the word go, the College gave me a lot of confidence in myself. I thought if they have faith in me, then that really ticked the box for me. The College’s website mentions the facilities at Coatbridge Campus, and when I came in for interview I saw that the equipment was very up-to-date and very clean.”

What was most challenging about your course?

“It was up a level from what I’d studied before. There’s a lot more research involved in the degree: you really need the knowledge and a lot of that is down to finding contemporary research articles.

“In lower levels of study, you’re told a fact and that’s it, but we need to know ‘that’s a fact’ as well as why is it a fact and who said it? Research reports are time-consuming – it’s all about learning to manage your time better.”

What did you enjoy most about your course?

“The BSc is demanding, but it’s manageable. You need to be able to work independently and ask for support when you need it. Sometimes I find when you’re told something, then you can just forget it days later, but because you’re going away and doing the research yourself, it stuck with me a lot more. That gave me a lot more confidence and I’m applying that in my work. If someone asks me a question now, then I can confidently answer.

“New College Lanarkshire is really raising the bar for the dental nursing profession. We’re operators now. We’re knowledgeable and that’s what this course really pushes for: give us additional duties, let us be a bit more hands-on in surgery, and give us more of a voice and a name for ourselves. It’s really nice to see.”

How did your course prepare you for the workplace?

“I was already working as well as studying. We’re registered with the General Dental Council after HNC level.

“I started off doing placements in my dad’s practice in HNC level – clients think it’s nice to see father and son working alongside each other. We have such a good relationship – we’ve got to a stage where it’s almost telepathic communications and we know each other’s moves now.”

What was the most important thing you learned at NCL?

“I’d say that it’s the confidence that has been instilled in me. I’ve learned that it’s about being confident in your abilities. You are supported well in your studies at New College Lanarkshire, and you know if you ever need to ask something then you can – the lecturers are all very approachable.”

New College Lanarkshire offers a range of Dental Nursing courses from introductory (SCQF Level 4) to degree (SCQF Level 9) level.

Our state-of-the-art Dental facilities include an intra-oral camera and a ‘Phantom Head lab’ to allow simulated learning on model heads.

Read more about our Dental Nursing courses:

Dental Nursing

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