Principle 6 - Work with colleagues in a way that is in patients' best interests
Calvin is a student dentist in his third year of study. He has just started working in clinic with other members of the dental team.
Calvin has been working in clinic with dental nurses for three months in his third year of study. Sometimes these are student dental nurses and sometime they are qualified and registered dental nurses. Calvin works well with the experienced dental nurses. They are supportive and offer advice, for example, when they notice that he has missed something. He finds this helpful as he is learning the ropes.
His supervisor has noticed that on several occasions when working with student dental nurses that his team working skills are not as good. A couple of student nurses have fed back that he has been dismissive when they have spoken during clinic.
One of the student dental nurses has noticed that Calvin had forgotten to change gloves between patients and discreetly brings this to Calvin’s attention, reminding him about patient safety. Calvin tells her to be quiet and that it is not her place to challenge him. Calvin’s supervisor observes this from a distance and calls Calvin aside to discuss the situation.
What do you think Calvin should do next?
Select an option:
- Explain that the student dental nurse is a trainee with less experience than him. As a dental student he would know more.
- Focus on one of the specific comments relating to patient safety to defend his actions and explain that he was about to change the gloves when it was pointed out.
- Listen to the feedback, reflect on the concept of team working and apologise to the student dental nurse.
See what Calvin did next...
Calvin explained that he hadn’t meant to come across as dismissive when the student dental nurses worked with him. He felt as a dental student he ought to be in the role of team leader and would be expected to have more knowledge. Calvin admitted that he was embarrassed that he had forgotten to change his gloves and had reacted inappropriately to the student dental nurse. The supervisor and Calvin discussed the importance of ensuring colleagues felt valued and how this was important in both gaining trust, working effectively and enabling colleagues to raise concerns if there was a risk to patient safety for example.
Calvin was aware his actions had not met the standard required and was able to analyse why. In future, if he was embarrassed by advice a colleague offered he understood that he had a responsibility to respond appropriately. Calvin apologised to the student dental nurse for his actions and thanked her for her advice. No further action was taken as Calvin had shown insight into his actions.
6.1 Work effectively with your colleagues and contribute to good teamwork.
6.1.4 You must value and respect the contribution of all team members.
1.5 You must treat patients in a hygienic and safe environment.
8.1 Always put patients’ safety first.
8.2 Act promptly if patients or colleagues are at risk and take measures to protect them.
Ask your training provider if there is any other guidance or information they would recommend.
- Which registrant category and member of the dental team are you training for? Have you been treated as you would expect to be? What would you do about it if you felt you weren’t valued and respected?
- How well do you think you contribute to the team? Are there things you could do differently to make the team perform better and/or to make others feel valued as team members?
These fictional case studies are for illustration purposes only and should not be relied on to make clinical decisions. Their aim is to put GDC guidance in context, exploring how some of the principles might work in practice.
The case studies cannot be relied on to be clinically accurate. Nor do the case studies intend to show the "correct" interpretation of GDC guidance, only one (or more) possible interpretation(s).