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Pre Registration Training

NHS Education for Scotland have five dental education centres across Scotland that deliver the SVQ and PDA in Dental Nursing training programmes.

The Qualifications:

The SVQ Level 3 & PDA in Dental Nursing are awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). These qualifications are designed to educate and train dental nurses in the knowledge and skills required to demonstrate competence in their role.  Following successful completion of these qualifications students will be eligible to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) and practise using the title ‘Dental Nurse’.


A variety of methods will be used to assess students’ knowledge and skills throughout the SVQ/PDA programme:

 SVQ in Dental Nursing

Workplace Observations:

The qualification includes assessment within the workplace to allow trainee dental nurses to develop practical skills required to demonstrate competence.  The workplace observations will involve one of the centre’s Dental Nurse Tutors/Assessors   visiting your practice to observe the student’s performance when undertaking a range of routine duties and chairside dental procedures. 

Portfolio of Evidence:

Students will develop a portfolio of evidence that will demonstrate their competence in a wide range of clinical dental procedures and duties within their professional role.

Online Assessments:

Students will undertake continuous assessment via SOLAR (SQA online assessment resource) throughout the programme to demonstrate knowledge and understanding in all aspects of the qualification.

 PDA in Dental Nursing

The aim of the PDA in Dental Nursing is to enable candidates to develop specific knowledge and skills in relation to:

  • Principles of Infection Prevention and Control in the Dental Environment
  • Principles of Oral Health Assessment and Treatment Planning
  • Dental Radiography
  • Principles in the Management of Plaque Related Diseases

Students will sit closed book assessments during class for each unit during the course.  These assessments will go towards their qualification.

Entry Requirements:

In order to register for the SVQ & PDA in Dental Nursing the centre must receive evidence of the following: 

  • Three qualifications at SCQF level 4 (e.g. Standard Grades at ‘General’ or above, or National 4 or above) in English; Maths; and a Science subject.  Equivalent qualifications and prior learning will be recognised on discussion with the centre.
  • Successful completion of our Dental Nurse Induction Programme within the preceding two years.
  • Employed in a dental practice environment working clinically alongside a dentist or hygiene therapist covering a full range of clinical dental procedures for a minimum of 15 hours per week. 

In addition to register for NHS Education for Scotland's SVQ and PDA in Dental Nursing programme prospective students must have successfully completed our Dental Nurse Induction Programme within the preceding two years.

(See the 'Dental Nurse Induction' section for further information)