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Features / July 21, 2014

How to be an award-winning dental practice

by Guy Hiscott

Brenda Barrett reveals what motivated Pembroke Dental to enter the 2014 Irish Dentistry Awards, and why the practice is now on a roll

We won an Irish Dentistry award in 2012 and 2014, so you might think we have a formula for success – but we don’t!

Along with all the normal standards and constraints that must be upheld and observed in dental practices, we try and retain a reputation for being Carlow’s friendly dental practice.

In 2012, our team and practice were finalists for Best Patient Care and Best Community Project, while my team nominated me for Best Employer – where I was also a finalist!

After being named Practice of the Year (Republic East) in 2012, we were excited to enter the 2014 Irish Dentistry Awards.

Aside from the fun to be had at the awards evening in Dublin, it was also a great event for us the first time round – it boosted team morale and gave us what felt like a stamp of approval for all the hard work we were doing.

We had expanded, introduced a new laboratory, and developed our specialist services

The submission process

As the awards opened for the 2014 entries, I noticed there was a new category for Best Child Dental Health Initiative.

Since one member of our team, Rachel Murphy, had made such a great job of coordinating and running the Cool Clean Club – the first child’s oral health club of its kind in Ireland – I felt her initiative should deserve some recognition and awareness.

We also felt that Pembroke set a high standard for its customer care, and so, on a whim, we entered both Best Patient Care and Practice of the Year Leinster. We thought we’d be in with a good chance of being a finalist after the many innovations we had implemented in the practice in the previous year.

We had expanded, introduced a new laboratory, and developed our specialist services. But we weren’t convinced we’d win, due to competition from other great practices in Ireland, so when it was announced that we were finalists for all three awards, we were over the moon! It was a great moment for the whole team.

On the eve of the awards in January 2014, both Rachel and I were really excited. The participation really is as important as the award itself. As well as having the chance to enjoy your success while you sip and socialise, it’s an opportunity to keep up-to-date with dental initiatives and reflect on what you’re doing at your own practice.

This year, however, through the laughs and the bubbles, we were still filled with anticipation. Could we win again?

And the award goes to…

The build-up to the announcements seemed even better this year. There was live music to start with, and, as we ate, everybody in the room seemed to be tweeting and taking photos – which were then broadcast onto the screen behind the stage!

I thought it was a great idea to be fundraising for mouth cancer research as well – it made us all feel as if we were doing our bit to help.

It has also helped rework and cement our commitment to making our practice the best it can be

As the night rolled on, the winners for each category were called and we clapped appreciatively; some great work is going on in many Irish practices. Denplan was generously giving a bottle of champagne to every award winner as well.

All of a sudden, our names were up – we’d won Best Practice of the Year in Leinster! We were overjoyed. Although we did not win the Best Child Dental Initiative, it was a wonderful experience for Rachel and myself.

Bringing our award home to the practice was a wonderful moment for the whole team. We love our glass trophy. The coverage that followed through our local paper was brilliant, too. As any busy dental practice knows, we focus on meeting the needs of patients, so we hadn’t changed anything especially for the awards. But since then, there has been plenty of opportunity to evaluate what we do and how we do it.

It has also helped rework and cement our commitment to making our practice the best it can be, keeping us on the lookout for new and innovative ways to keep our practice up-to-date.

The 2015 Irish Dentistry Awards will take place on 30 January 2015 in the centre of Dublin. Entry costs just €60 per category. Please ensure you register the categories you wish to enter by 1 August 2014. Your complete entry does not need to be submitted until the closing date of 19 September 2014. For details and to register your entry, call Karen on +44 (0) 1923 851743 or visit