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Are Online Courses for Dental Nurses Valid?

5th August 20

There are those who view online courses with an heir of mistrust. For whatever reason, the idea that you can gain a qualification without sitting in a physical classroom is uncomfortable.

It’s not helped with high profile scandals like the now defunct Trump University allegedly defrauding its students.

Of course, there will always be criminals out there looking to con the unsuspecting but that isn’t exclusive to the online learning sector.

In fact, unlike other online businesses, online educators are regulated by a host of different governing bodies to ensure you get the education you have paid for.

Providing you have enrolled with an accredited online course provider then the qualification you are studying towards will be recognised by other educational institutes and any future employer.

There are one or two exceptions. The first is not all universities recognise Access to HE Diplomas. The overwhelming majority do, but it’s always worth checking with any university you hope to attend before you enrol. It’ll save you a lot of time, money and heartache.

Other courses that won’t necessarily carry weight with employers or educators are ‘hobby’ courses or beginner courses that only offer a completion certificate. While they won’t refute any knowledge you’ve gained, it is unlikely to factor into their decision-making process.

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Regulating Online Courses

Any online course that offers you a recognised qualification – such as an A Level – has to be regulated in the exact same way as any other course.

Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) regulates all awarding organisations regardless of how the learning is delivered. This ensures the student is protected and it is fair in terms of the course material and any exams or course work.

If you are studying a dental course, then the course needs to be recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC). If it isn’t then you’re unlikely to be able to practice with the qualification you have earned.

Qualifications awarded by the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses (NEBDN) are held in particularly high regard by the profession. So, factor this into your decision-making process when choosing a course.

This NEBDN regulation ensures that everyone is essentially getting the same level of education. While some dental nursing courses may vary slightly in subject matter or how the learning is delivered, the outcomes will be the same.

In addition to this regulation, distance learning courses are developed by subject experts so you can be assured that the material you cover will be relevant.

Some universities even work with online course providers. This is to make sure the student has the most up-to-date knowledge ahead of undergraduate study.

The NEBDN works in a similar capacity so all dental nursing students complete their course with all the knowledge they need to do the job safely and correctly.

The result, when you pass your dental nurse course, you are guaranteed a nationally recognised diploma in dental nursing.

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Required Qualifications

Currently there are two ways you can qualify to become a dental nurse.

The first is to gain your qualifications through either full time or part time study. There are several dental nursing courses available and all will help you achieve your goal of becoming a dental nurse.

Just check that the dental nurse course is recognised by the GDC before you enrol. If it doesn’t clearly state it anywhere on the course description page, or that the qualification is awarded by the NEBDN then contact the course provider for clarification.

It’s important you make sure that your dental nursing course has been approved otherwise you may find you’re not legally allowed to practice as a dental nurse.

Entry requirements vary from course to course but in most instances, you will need a minimum of two GCSEs at grade C (4) or above in English Language and Maths or a Science subject.

The advantage of studying dental nursing online is that you can start studying right away and complete the dental nurse course as quickly as you want to.

This is a big advantage over a traditional setting with set term dates. Especially if you want to change career sooner rather than later.

It’s worth noting that some dental practices will want 1-2 years’ experience in addition to a qualification before they’ll take you on as a fully qualified dental nurse.

The other option is a level 3 apprenticeship in dental nursing. This allows you to gain a dental nursing qualification while working as a trainee dental nurse or dental nursing assistant. It will require you to carry out many of the duties of a dental nurse as you learn.

You will then have assignments to complete in the evening.

Many dental nurses start off as a trainee dental nurse. You do not need any formal qualifications to be a trainee dental nurse, just a willingness to learn.

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How long will it take to Qualify?

This, of course, depends on the route you take into dental nursing and what your existing commitments are.

Working part time as a trainee dental nurse will take you longer to qualify than if you worked full time. If you are full time it can take between 18 and 24 months to complete a dental nurse apprenticeship course.

If you opt for gaining your dental nursing qualification through dedicated study, then the duration of your studies will vary.

In a traditional setting, the dental nurse course takes roughly a year to complete. Plus, any time you have to waste waiting for the course to start.

Online learning providers will usually give you 2 years to complete the dental nursing course, but most students can complete the course in 9 months or less. This means you can qualify and move into your new role as a dental nurse in less than a year.

Studying online means you can start studying the same day you enrol and work your studies around your existing commitments. No classrooms, no timetables. You dedicate the pace and the way you learn.

This gives you the best return on time and investment as it will allow you to get into the new role relatively quickly.

A word of warning – whichever route you take, GDC registration requires passing an exam and completing two years of surgery experience.


learndirect is one of the UK’s leading distance learning providers. Enrolling on our courses provides you with instant access to your learning material so you can start studying right away. You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.

Click below to enrol on our NEBDN-certified and GDC approved, National Diploma in Dental Nursing. Places are limited so don’t delay.

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