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a blog by Chris Barrow

What's the difference? A question about dental nurses.

I'm interested in the answer to a simple question.

What's the difference between a dental nurse who is assisting a dentist generating £20,000 per month of gross production.......

........and a dental nurse assisting a dentist generating £60,000 per month of gross production?

It's a serious question - and so I'd like to avoid flippant answers.

Is there a difference?

If so - what is it?

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Hi Chris

as well as the skills I think the attitude and self drive is key here. They have to buy in 100% to the ethos and philosophy of the practice, want and love to join the journey to success, and believe they can do what has to be done. Ultimately their focus leads them to go on to other opportunities but as Dan said in his email, it’s part of the joy.

One thing that has been mentioned is Leadership - it’s not just the nurses that have to be the right stuff, we as the lead clinicIan or practice owners have to walk the walk as well. After all you can have excellent team members but if the…


Their own ambition is key and the ability to recognise their position being equally as important as the clinicians! Without a hardworking, knowledgable, organised nurse the high grossing dentist is in trouble!! Also broad shoulders always comes in handy to deal with those slightly more stressful busy days and situations.

An eagerness to keep up with the different systems (implants) their associated components and liaise with the technicians and understand it all is a continuous slog. Not something all nurses want to bother themselves with.


Anne Griffiths
Anne Griffiths
Dec 06, 2021

The immediate answer that came to my mind was 'skills, the nurses assisting the high fee earners have so many more skills'. In our practice that can include knowledge of multiple implant systems, taking blood for the blood spinning machine, taking radiographs and CT scans, assisting with sedation cases, …the list goes on. They are also masters of organisation and personal effectiveness. They are always one step or more ahead of the clinician and the effortless swan metaphor was probably written with them in mind.

Of course to acquire those skills a nurse needs to have the opportunity and the desire to learn and develop. Not everyone does, its the same in any field and that's also why some clinician…


Chris Barrow
Chris Barrow
Dec 06, 2021

This from a friend...

Hi Chris, I hope you are well. Just happened to see your fb post re the difference between dental nurses etc… The comment button wasn’t working (for me anyway) so thought I’d email super quick. Anecdotally I’ve found that nurses helping to generate high gross tend to be the kind of people who have a bit of ambition and get up and go. This typically manifests in them working for us for say 5 years (late teens early 20’s) before moving onto other things. For instance we have a nurse still with us but very part time whilst she does midwifery course. We have a nurse still with us who is studying the access course to dental therapist. We…
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