The Old Surgery Practice Manager and then President of Association of Dental Administrators and Managers (ADAM), Lisa Bainham, looks at how you can get the best out of your dental nurses…
Importance of dental nurses
Dental nurses are hugely important, they can be the unsung heroes of the practice and a lot of things couldn’t happen without dental nurses. Their main role within the practice is to shadow the dentist, however, their job doesn’t just stop there.
Within our practices, we really do understand the importance of the role dental nurses play, and I think that comes from having been a nurse myself and knowing just how tough the job can be. As that’s how I started, I’ve always put a huge emphasis on valuing my nurses and giving them the right support and opportunities to really thrive in their jobs.
If you do that, and if you see how important they are to your team, then you’ll be able to get the best of them.
There are several things you can do; the first point we like to cover, very early on, is setting out what opportunities will be available to them.
So, for example, when we interview for a new position, we explain that if the candidate were to be successful, we would encourage them to go on courses and achieve extra qualifications.
It could be a course in radiography, CT scanning or sedation, that will help to steadily build their skillset. We even had a nurse who really enjoyed cooking, so she went on a food hygiene course and now she prepares the food when we have a ‘lunch and learn’ event in the practice!
Offering these opportunities makes dental nurses feel valued, it gives them a purpose and it helps to create a really strong team of people that want to work for you.
When it comes to upskilling and putting dental nurses through courses, there are a couple of good points to remember. One is that certain courses may be suited to some nurses but not others. It’s not a one size fits all process, and by really getting to know each nurse’s personality you will be able to identify individual support and training needs.
When your dental nurses have taken the time to learn and develop through the courses you’ve offered them, it’s also important to remember that this should really be reflected in their pay. It’s similar to investing in a new piece of equipment; you spend money on that piece of equipment to make your business better, so you should do the same when it comes to your dental nurses.
Upskilling helps your business to grow
When we began in 1998, there was me, one dentist and one patient, and now we’ve grown to a point where we have 40 staff over two practices, and that has come from having a really strong team. We’ve added to our workforce and invested in individuals and that has helped us grow the business, and in particular it has helped over the last 12 months.
The practice has really been flying, and I do attribute that to having a strong and motivated team, and I give credit to them every single day. Without them, the business wouldn’t have grown in the way it has.
By investing in all our staff, we’ve enjoyed a really low staff turnover and 70% of our current workforce have been with us for ten or more years. That itself means we don’t have to go out and recruit as much, which can be expensive in terms of time and money.
A story that springs to mind when discussing how investing in staff can help your business to grow; one of our nurses, who has been with us for a long time, was an excellent nurse and trained as a therapist, but she didn’t enjoy this new role. So, she retrained as a treatment coordinator and became the first in the country to get a recognised qualification. Now, she’s bringing in new patients all the time and has a 90% conversion rate from conversation to appointment. So, it shows how we have benefitted by investing in and upskilling her.
Lisa has been the Practice Manager at The Old Surgery Dental Practice in Crewe for over 20 years. She began her career as a dental nurse before moving into practice management in 1998. Over the years she has won awards, such as the 2016 Practice Manager of the Year at the Association of Dental Administrators and Managers and she became president of ADAM in the same year.