A brand new dental practice in Billingham has just taken on its first apprentice through Northern Skills Group – and is encouraging other local businesses to follow suit.
Billingham Dental was opened in November 2019 by principal dentist’s Neal McCormick and Craig Harrington – taking up a 10-year lease in a former bank.
Since opening its doors in the town centre, the practice’s client base has quickly grown.
Practice Manager Gill Waller said: “Before we opened, we had a huge interest from patient's wanting to register with us.
“There has been a huge demand for NHS dental services in the local area, so our team has quickly expanded. It was then that we decided to take on a dental nursing apprentice to support the team.
“We looked at a few different training providers, but we were drawn to Northern Skills Group due its reputation in the local area, and experience working with other dental practices.”
Former Dyke House Academy student Riona Beckwith was recruited by the practice, after impressing the team with her passion and dedication of the industry.
Riona said: “I’ve always aspired to go into dentistry, but always thought university was the only option available to me.
“When I finished my college course and saw this vacancy advertised over the summer I jumped at the opportunity.”
Riona is now studying for the Level 3 Professional Apprenticeship in Dental Nursing. She works 4 days per week at the practice and comes to Middlesbrough College for 1 day per week on day release to study.
She said: “I’d definitely recommend an apprentice for those looking to get into dental nursing, it’s great to be training whilst working an earning an income.
“I’ve only been in a post for a few weeks but the team have been great in allowing me to get stuck in. It’s a really supportive environment to work in and I’ve already learned so much during my time here.”
Principal dentist Neal McCormick added: “As part of her training Riona will get to grips with all elements of clinical practice.
“Her main role will be to provide chairside support to patients for a number of procedures, but she’ll also gain experience in using our computer systems and working front of house to manage patient bookings.
“In dentistry, apprenticeships are a fantastic way of simultaneously giving young people a chance to get their foot on the ladder within the industry, while also learning the relevant skills.
“The hands-on format with apprenticeships is suited to our industry as experience is so important in building competency.”