Award-winning practice manager Lorraine Browne explains the best methods behind managing a dental practice effectively during busy periods, including how to stay organised while entering the Irish Dentistry Awards

We’ve all heard the old saying, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and this couldn’t be more true than when working in a busy dental practice.

Time management is a fairly straightforward concept – the process of arranging and controlling how you spend your time – this is never more critical than when approaching busy times within the practice, such as when entering the Irish Dentistry Awards or preparing for upcoming inspections.

Entering the Irish Dentistry Awards is not something you can pull off in a hour, it takes months of planning and every member of the team to help pull together the mountain of evidence required to support your entry. If you’ve never entered the Irish Dentistry Awards, timing and thinking ahead will be crucial to ensuring your entry has everything it needs come the deadline.

Gathering patient testimonials

Customer feedback form, testimonials, photos, videos and everything else you need to support your application do not magically appear. You might think you have stacks of stuff, but you need to ensure everything is current, and work out whether your evidence highlights exactly what it is you want them to – and exactly what it is they should, as per the guidelines for the awards.

You may also think you know where everything is, but if you find out you don’t, then putting a patient on the spot as they are running out the front door is not the best time to get a patient testimonial, unless all you want is a vague five- or six-word comment.

It can take several weeks for most patients to reply to a request for a testimonial and many weeks more for you to get the best ones. Hours and hours can be spent finding the right photos and other evidence, and organising them exactly as you want them to appear.

Entering the Irish Dentistry Awards is not something you can pull off in a hour

Is it really worth it?

Is managing your time really worth the hassle? Yes, it is. On a day-to-day basis, it will make your routine more organised and your long-term view clearer, as you know that you are in control of upcoming projects and tasks.

A balanced workload and controlled use of time will also negate stress and make you more capable, leaving you time to focus on the things that matter most.

Top tips

  1. Make a record – highlight exactly what you want to achieve
  2. Manage communications – make sure everyone understands what you need and when for. Don’t let yourself be distracted by colleagues if inappropriate
  3. Be organised – a tidy desk, a neat to-do list, and a succint email inbox means an organised mind
  4. Prioritise – even if you have multiple projects on the go and are capable of achieving numerous tasks all at once
  5. Delegate tasks – don’t be afraid to pass duties on to other capable people
  6. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ – everyone wants everything now, but that doesn’t mean their priorities are what’s most important to the business.

No matter how busy you are, the most important thing to remember is that the practice must still continue to run as normal. Spending time stressing about entry deadlines will only become worse, especially if you finally submit your work and realise you’ve let everything else slide and have weeks of other work to catch up on.

The entry deadline for the Irish Dentistry Awards is 19 September 2014. Visit our awards page for the full entry guidelines.

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Lorraine Browne won Best Practice Manager at the Irish Dentistry Awards 2014. She has worked at Belmore Dental Studio & Implant Clinic for seven years, where she is now practice manager. Lorraine began her career at Belmore as a dental nurse and progressed to lead the nursing team before applying for her current position.