Deanna Dowley, ‘Never a dull moment.’

D-DOWLEYHi Deanna, so tell me, how did you get into dental nursing?

I always knew I wanted a career in health care. I knew general nursing wasn’t for me, as I knew I couldn’t handle the shifts. I attempted a paramedic course but I couldn’t hack it either. It was then that I considered dental nursing. I liked the idea of steady hours but still in the area I wanted to be in. I applied to my local college and got my qualifications. From then on I was a full time dental nurse. I have worked in NHS, community dental service, hospitals, theatre, private and worked as an orthodontic nurse as well. I’ve seen it all.

How did your career progress from dental nurse to practice manager?

Well, I got promoted to Senior nurse and I was just given more and more responsibility. I think for most people this is how it happens, you are given the practice management role without even realising it.

Did you enjoy the transition?

Yes, I really enjoyed the administrative side of things and I was slowly losing speed as a dental nurse. I didn’t want to be on my feet every day and I wanted to experience something different. I applied for a new job as a practice manager and I was gently introduced to the managing side by my principal dentist. I learnt a hell of a lot. We had to build the practice up from nothing, everything had to be done from scratch. All the polices had to be put in place. As a nurse I did not know any of this existed or was even necessary. From then on I knew that the management position was for me and I’ve stuck with it ever since. I am now back in a small, private, independent practice.

What would you say is the best part of your job?

The best part of the job is managing a really good team and waking up every morning, looking forward to work and not dreading it. I love the fact that I know no two days are going to be the same. I also enjoy the satisfaction that we are providing a service to people and it alters people’s lives. People come in embarrassment and self conscious and we help them feel great about themselves again.

Do you think there are transferable skills from being a dental nurse?

Absolutely, I believe that the best run practices are run by managers who have dental experience. You need to be a manager and own that role but at the same time have empathy with patients and dental nurses. I would never expect someone to do something I wasn’t able to do. When dealing with a complaint I think that my background as a dental nurse helps me to understand the nature of everything and see the big picture. Having dental nurse experience makes me feel extremely confident in the role I am in. Working as a dental nurse is something that will carry with you for the rest of your career.

How would you describe the role of practice manager?

It is interesting, fun and there is never a dull moment! It is also satisfying, you’re responsible for a team of people who hopefully go home at the end of the day happy and have helped lots of people in that day. I always say that working in the dental world is a vocation. It is not a job you can just walk into and pick up that day. It is a lot of hard work and training.

Would you recommend training courses for practice managers?

Yes, I would, even though I personally did not do this myself. It is such a administrative and dynamic role that I constantly update my knowledge and always do my CPD. I still learn things every day. I think that undergoing training courses for someone who is beginning to start out as a practice manager is a great idea. Having qualifications or certificates is what is going to carry you through these days. I got through on experience and because I worked in lots of different areas but for others it might be a good place to start. There are so many options such as open university, internet based courses, courses you can attend. I am not ruling out that I would never do one myself!

Is there any other advice you would give to dental nurses?

It is a unique job and you have to be certain type of person. A bit of a mad one, you might say! However, I’ve made friends for life and it is a great network to be part of. It is close nit community and I love what I do. I’d like to add that our practice has 20 years of experience and it is wonderful to be a part of it!

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