Sharon is the newest member of The Dental Nurse Network team and will be teaching courses including Introduction to Practice Management and Infection Control.
Sharon Holmes was born in Gauteng, South Africa in 1966, and began her career as medical nurse in Addington Hospital in Durban.
She left to work in Botswana after marrying her husband Robert in 1990, but returned home a few years later feeling that the time was right for a change. Sick of night duties and working on holidays, and attracted by the higher pay South Africa’s dental nurses enjoyed at the time, she spotted a small ad in a paper and thought: “Why not?”
Twenty years and 8000 miles later, it’s a career change Sharon looks back on without regret. Even though she’s since made the move to practice manager, her enthusiasm for dentistry is as strong as ever. She credits her time as a dental nurse for her successful management career, which has seen her awarded Practice Manager of the Year by the British Dental Practice Managers Association, and receive two nominations for Outstanding Achievement at the Private Dentistry Awards.
Now she’s encouraging other dental nurses to follow in her footsteps.
“It’s like starting in the kitchen and working your way up to the restaurant on the top floor,” she says. “Because you have those foundations you understand what happens in a dental surgery and that makes it easier to observe and put better systems in place.”
Sharon understands that the step up to practice management can be intimidating for nurses. She found it difficult herself, after a challenging childhood left her lacking in confidence. “I just thought of myself as a grafter, a worker; someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty,” she says. “But not intelligent or academic.” When her previous boss offered her the chance to try her hand at practice management, she seized the opportunity. She loved the experience, and hasn’t looked back since.
Sharon’s own experience of education has motivated her to get involved at The Dental Nurse Network. But her own doubts kept her away from the field until a meeting with old friends in South Africa changed her mind.
“They were telling me I should do further training and my answer was ‘I’m not academic, I can’t do this’“ she says. “But they told me ‘Until you try you don’t know what you’re capable of’. They saw something in me that I couldn’t, and I made the choice.”
When she returned to the UK, Sharon enrolled in a course on Infection Control. Much of what was taught would be useful in her role at work, but she also learnt what it’s possible to achieve with determination and effort. Now she’s keen to spread the message of education and empowerment in her role with The Dental Nurse Network. She says that many nurses might not be aware of what they could achieve: “Dentistry has been my university, and I’ve learned so much about people and life. When I went to my [first] interview I had no idea what I could be able to do with my career.”
Sharon now runs four practices for the Dental Arts Studio in her role as Operations Director, and firmly believes that dental nurses should be aware of how far hard work and enthusiasm can get them.
“My message would be never say no to anything, always stretch yourself, always look to see how you can grow. Read the good books; leave behind the Heats and the OK Magazines and everything that doesn’t nourish your mind.
“Read the things that do [nourish your mind] because that’s how you change. Growth is never easy. It’s painful and it’s hard, but it’s worth it.”
Sharon will be teaching courses on Infection Control, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Children, and Introduction to Practice Management. In the future she will also be offering courses on confidence and empowerment for dental nurses.