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Features / July 28, 2014

A shot in the dark

by Guy Hiscott

Lorraine Browne tells us how an impromptu entry into the 2014 Irish Dentistry Awards helped her win Best Practice Manager

What do you think is your strongest trait as a practice manager?

I think my strongest trait is my ability to multitask. Working in a dental practice is becoming increasingly more difficult with new legislations and guidelines coming in every week. Patients expect and deserve much more and dentistry is fast becoming an industry where, in order to succeed, high customer satisfaction, excellent customer service and cutting edge marketing techniques are essential. Managing everything in a busy dental practice can be very difficult and time consuming.

You began working at Belmore Dental Studio as a dental nurse – what made you decide to switch roles?

I decided to become a dental nurse when searching for a career change more than six years ago – prior to this, I had several years’ experience working in business, marketing and management. I truly enjoyed my time training and working as a dental nurse but when the position became available, my love of marketing and advertising won, so I decided to interview for the post. Working as a practice manager is an amazing experience, but I do miss working closely with patients in surgery.

Why did you decide to enter the 2014 Irish Dentistry Awards?

We decided to enter Belmore for several awards – at the time, I didn’t really give any thought to entering myself for the Best Practice Manager category. We entered the practice because we are very proud of what we do at Belmore and wanted to showcase our practice as one of the best in Ireland. While writing the entries, the director of Belmore, Sinead McEnhill, told me that she wanted to enter me for the award of Best Practice Manager. The rest of the team thought it was a good idea as well, so it all started from there!

Everything we do must be in the best interests of our patients – they are the lifeblood of our business

What do you think are the most important aspects of a practice manager’s role?

The most important aspect of a practice manager’s job is customer service. Everything we do must be in the best interests of our patients – they are the lifeblood of our business. Without them we would not be here; to have a successful business, it is critical we remember that the customer always comes first.

What advice would you give to practice managers looking to further their skills in their role?

I truly believe you need to have clinical skills in order to succeed as a practice manager. Each and every patient, and their needs, are completely different – there are no set rules that apply to everyone. You need to be able to adapt what you do and say to each individual.

This is also true for your team members. Everyone needs individually tailored support and guidance. A good working knowledge of accounts, a sound understanding of the quality of health and social care services available (for us in Northern Ireland, it’s the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority [RQIA]), policies and procedure writing are all essential. On top of that, it’s vital also to know about marketing, advertising and social media promotion as a practice manager.

What do you love about your job?

Everything – it is the variety of everything I do that keeps me so motivated to go on. There really is never a dull moment at Belmore. I think the best part is seeing the difference we make to patient’s lives – from their first nervous telephone enquiry and seeing them come in for their first visit, to seeing the final outcome a few months later. It really can be life changing for some people, and to be part of that transformation is amazing. I also love reading the fantastic testimonials and feedback from patients, it really makes it all worthwhile.

How do you think this award will affect your work?

I really don’t think it will change my day-to-day work, but I do think that going forward it will reinforce the importance of making sure everything I do truly is the best I can achieve, and strive to make Belmore better for its patients – every day and in every way possible.

Will you be entering the 2015 Irish Dentistry Awards?

No – I might enter again in a few years’ time and give it another shot when I’ve gained some more qualifications and achievements at Belmore. There are so many talented practice managers out there and they deserve to be recognised for the exceptional work they do.

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