2019 has been an exciting, challenging but rewarding year.
January got off to a busy start spending a day with the Invisalign Cookbook creative team to record a video on hints and tips on how to grow a successful Invisalign practice. This was followed up with a trip to Amsterdam to meet 4 other orthodontists from EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia) to share our expertise and knowledge to create the ‘Cookbook’.
I have presented this information throughout the year in webinars, the Birmingham Masterclass and at the inaugural Invisalign Summit in London. This has led me to develop confidence as a speaker and by pushing me out of my comfort zone has helped me grow as a person.
As well as being asked to be the UK representative of the Invisalign Cookbook, I am now a member of the Invisalign advisory board which gives co-members an opportunity to give feedback to Align on the developments of their products.
One of my most challenging speaker events this year, was to be asked to speak at the Inspirational Women in Dentistry conference where I met some amazing female colleagues pushing forward in the world of Dentistry, Orthodontics and Facial Aesthetics. It was at this event that I came to know about the incredible charity, The Rosie-May Foundation which raises money to support and help females in Sri Lanka secure jobs and protect them against trafficking. It was such an honour to be able to donate the proceeds of one Invisalign case to buy a pink tuk tuk and train a female driver to transport women and young girls to work or school in safety.
The increasing demand for adult orthodontics has allowed me to take on another orthodontic therapist Becky who has over 10 years’ experience and is also a speaker for Invisalign. Becky and I had a great day at Leeds Dental Institute with the trainee orthodontic therapists teaching them about Invisalign. We have been invited back to do this again next year.
As a business, I was absolutely delighted to reach two milestones this year. In April I provided my 500th Invisalign case and was also awarded Invisalign Diamond Status. Only 0.2% of UK orthodontists in the UK have achieved this and it is a goal that I never believed I would reach. This is of course is testimony to the supportive team I have working with me.
I have continued my role on the OSG (orthodontic specialist group) committee in the BOS (British Orthodontic Society) and judge on the ATO (Against The Odds) competition. This is a real eye opener to the impact that orthodontic treatment can have on people’s lives and I must admit there were numerous stories that brought tears to my eyes.
Of course, a reflection of the year cannot overlook the doom and gloom of the NHS procurement process. Last December I was elated to have submitted my bid (something that has taken over my life for at least 2 years). A few weeks later the whole process was put on hold by NHS England and here we are one year later no further forward. This has put serious stresses on me personally but also, from business perspective, there is no certainty of being able to deliver NHS orthodontics and give job security to my hard-working team.
However, in June this year I was delighted to have Chris Barrow spend a day at the practice and his wise words have resonated with me since ‘Stop procrastinating about the NHS and just get on and get stuff done’. I have invested in further staff training with two of our nurses Gail and Emma, starting their Radiography course in the New Year and I have applied to support Donna on an orthodontic therapy course – she has been shortlisted for an interview in February, so watch this space!
Chris spent a day with our team helping us all focus on how small changes can make big differences and no matter how good things are going, we can all do at least 1 % better. We have introduced morning huddles and monthly management meetings both of which have been a great success and will continue to develop in 2020.
In July, we introduced Dental Monitoring – a system developed to make the practice more productive by reducing the number of appointments that patients have to attend. This allows me to keep a close eye on the patients by looking at their digital scans on a weekly basis. This has been the biggest change in our working lives and is something that we will continue to adapt over the next 12 months.
Supporting staff in developing their careers is one of my core values and I was delighted that this year Natalie gained her orthodontic nursing exam. As mentioned, other nurses will be given further career opportunities next year.
At this time of year, it is good to take time to appreciate the staff who support you. I am blessed with an amazing team headed by Carol my wonderful practice manager. Everyone who works in a dental practice knows that challenges arise on a weekly/monthly basis and every time Carol comes up with a solution rather than presenting it to me as a problem.
This would not be possible without the work ethic of the team who have changed shifts, worked different days to cover sickness or whatever has come up. Words just cannot express the gratitude I have for them all. Every single person in our team from Michelle our cleaner, to receptionists and treatment coordinators, Joanne and Dawn who have played such an integral role in the success of the business. I am sorry to lose Asiya, one of our nurses, but wish her luck as she concentrates on her studies to support her future career. I am delighted to welcome Louise a new nurse who has just slotted into the team.
I am so fortunate to have two great clinicians with Ruth, my associate and Katie, my orthodontic therapist, who have been with me for over 10 years. Their dedication and hard work allows me time away from the practice for speaking engagements and to spend time with my family.
So what’s in store for 2020?
I have already got quite a few speaking events including a talk at Sheffield Study Club and webinars for Align.
However, I am thrilled to be asked to do a presentation at Ashley Latter’s retreat in the Lake District in October.
I am absolutely delighted that on 20th November the ‘Two Reds’ namely Chris Barrow and Ashley Latter have given up a day from their busy lives to lead a day of inspiration in support of the Rosie-May Foundation. Ashley and Chris have been crucial in my career and I hope that as many of my dental and orthodontic colleagues will join me. This will be at Malmaison in Leeds (8mins walk from the train station), so put the date in the diary and help me raise as much money as possible for this charity.
My challenge next year is to try and address my work-life balance, but the diary is filling up quickly. However, I am just one of those people who just keeps driving forward and must be grateful that I still have such passion about what I do.
On a personal level, a new challenge to face is ‘empty nest’ syndrome. I am so proud of my two girls Niamh and Orla. Niamh is living her dream, training in Musical Theatre at Leeds College of Music and as Orla sets off round the world in January, I think it will be a quiet Hendron house but delighted she has her place at Bristol university to study Dentistry!
A big thank you to all our patients and to the dentists who continually refer to our practice.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.