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Lucy Sheerins - Hygiene/Therapist Vocational Trainee

Hygiene/Therapist Vocational Training (VT)

There is a well established link between socioeconomic adversity and poor health.  It is suggested that these associations relate to childhood adversities and by recognising signs of these in child patients across healthcare disciplines we may go some way to alleviate the problem. 

The Vocational Training Programme for Dental Hygienists/Therapists (HTVTs) incorporates the assessment of case presentations submitted by the HTVTs during training.  One such case submitted during the 2012-2013 programme illustrates the importance of teamwork in dentistry in dealing with socially-related conditions. 

Lucy Sheerins was involved in the care of a 15-year-old boy who presented with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  This is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • short attention span
  • restlessness and constant fidgeting
  • being easily distracted

None of these symptoms is conducive to management of the patient in the dental surgery and care can be compromised. 

The patient described lives in an area of high deprivation and was in the care of social services, but had contact with his family who had accompanied him on occasion to dental appointments.  His anxiety levels were low, and he had developed trust in the Hygienist / Therapist who was carrying out the dental treatment. 

There are a number of factors associated with the poor attendance pattern of patients from areas of social deprivation and steps to recognise these issues had been incorporated into the management of the HTVT’s training practice.

In her case presentation, Lucy described concerns about the ability of a young clinician to properly identify and refer cases, and the training provided was paramount in addressing this. 

The treatment prescribed for the HTVT to carry out in this case included oral hygiene advice, initial periodontal care, and management of carious lesions in all four quadrants of the mouth, and this was successfully completed. 

Lucy said:  “I have thoroughly enjoyed my Vocational Traineeship over the past year. I have had the support and education to improve my clinical abilities, which I may have not been able to do elsewhere. Through the LEP process I could find my strengths and weakness and discuss my next steps with my trainer. 

“The study days were also a fantastic way to meet other members of the profession. At study days we would discuss topics such as; Paediatrics, Radiology, Periodontology, Restorative treatment and share experiences with each other. I have learned techniques for many different treatments, which have improved my patient care, through discussions and presentations at study days. 

“I would thoroughly recommend the VT scheme to any newly qualified Hygiene/Therapist as it is a wonderful stepping stone between university and working life.”