I joined Oasis Dental Care in 2007 as a trainee dental nurse at Sleaford in Lincolnshire and over the last 8 years I have worked my way up to lead dental nurse, practice coordinator and practice manager. Now I am a multi-site manager and practice manager buddy, working and living in London, running two flagship practices.
While employed as a lead dental nurse in a smaller practice on the east coast of England, I was championed by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the dental group for the role of practice manager in Kingston. This was only possible because the COO made it his business to visit practices and meet the staff. As he became familiar with my work, I was given the chance of relocating to London.
The opportunities for career progression when working for a corporate are vast. My current role as a practice manager buddy allows me to travel to surgeries in various locations, which would not be possible if working for an independent practice.
Full surgery teams at each practice
My time is currently split between two practices and depending on the itinerary I will either be in Kingston or Beckenham. Each Monday morning I report to our Area Manager and we have meetings once a month to remain up-to-date for better collaboration. A typical day in the office doesn’t exist but I always start by checking my emails for anything that needs immediate attention. There is a full surgery team at each practice I manage, so I might have meetings with the treatment coordinators to stay informed about how the specialists are getting on. Likewise, one-to-one meetings could be programmed in with individual dentists, which involves reviewing their NHS and private patient books and discussing any concerns.
I have a fantastic relationship with the dentists at my practices and because the atmosphere in the surgeries is so upbeat and work is a fun place to be, all of my dentists talk about it. When it comes to recruiting, vacancies are filled through word of mouth and I have never had to use the recruitment team, which I think says volumes.
Dedicated teams for each area
One of the main benefits of working for a corporation is the support that is available. We have dedicated teams for each area and there is help present for every aspect of our jobs from CQC to recruitment. Furthermore, we can depend on the support of peers, if for example you are having a bad day, you can just pick up the phone and discuss the problem with a colleague who understands exactly what you are going through. This would be considerably harder within an independent company to get the same peer support.
Of course there are challenges like any job, but I believe challenge is good. Plus, there are plenty of wonderful opportunities within corporates to work your way up and the support network available is fantastic.
Q. What is a ‘Practice manager buddy’?
A. As a practice manager buddy, my job is to visit various dental surgeries within the group to offer support to other practice managers who may benefit from my experience. Plus I help with integration at new practices and this normally takes place over a six-week period, where I attend the practice once a week to assist.
Q. What is the biggest misconception about working for a Corporate Dental Practice?
A. I think the biggest misconception team members have is that they will become just a number in the system with everyone churning out their work without caring. This couldn’t be further from the truth and this is where I come in and assure them that working for a corporate is like being part of a big family. I also think that my story is inspirational to others and proves that if you work hard you can achieve positions that may not be available, or be more difficult to reach, if working for an independent practice.
About the author
Deborah Ewing is the practice manager of both Kingston and Beckenham dental surgeries in London for Oasis Dental Care, which is a member of the Association of Dental Groups (ADG). As a practice manager buddy, Deborah was recently involved in supporting fellow practice managers in Northern Ireland, helping them integrate into a new practice. http://www.dentalgroups.co.uk