Regimental? I should have been a prison warden

My day begins at 5.00am every weekday as I am an early riser. I have a set routine and am a creature of habit. I have a 15-year-old son who I have to ensure is up, fed and showered with his school bag packed.

My husband travels a great deal with his work as a dentist and I like to make sure I have seen him before he embarks on his travels. I also ensure my 80-year-old father, who lives local to me, is OK before I go to work.

My working day should start at 8.45am for one day and 7.45am for four days. But, as most practice managers will tell you, that is not the case. I am at work by 6.45-7.00am most days.
I love the early mornings and sometimes I can beat the sun coming up. I have a great journey to the practice as usually the only people I see are the dustman and the milkman; 10 minutes in the car is enough to compose myself for the day.

Have I a routine? Routine is not the word. I am very regimented and extremely procedural. I often think I should have been a prison warden. Well, those are the words of my husband.
My inbox is always active. I have a strict routine of dealing with the emails in a priority order. I don’t like to see emails sitting in the inbox and will do my utmost to have an empty inbox.

My appointments can vary from day to day; it can be a patient who would like a chat to an advertising company looking to promote their business. But I always find time for a lunchbreak. I like to sit with the team to eat and try not to venture out as the shopping centre is so close and can cause serious damage to my purse.

Has it become a more difficult role with regard to new regulations re: HTM 01-05 and increasing administrative burdens? No, not at all. We moved into a purpose-built practice two years ago and we were set up to comply then. I have to be on top of the changing regulations and I source information from the dentistry magazines that both my bosses receive. I am also an avid fan of the internet. With my husband, I tend to get dentistry 24/7 in my house and my brother-in-law is also a dentist – so no escaping any changes.

Spa and Senova
My inspiration is Mel Prebble [head of hygiene at Senova]. She instils great confidence in me and is a great mentor, coach – and miles ahead of other hygienists.

Senova itself has taken the next step in dentistry by incorporating a medi spa within the practice. This offers the patients the facilities to take their dental experience to the next level.

By offering an on-site spa therapist, osteopath and the luxury of a relaxation room, complete with leather healthcare massage chairs, the journey for the patients becomes a more pleasurable experience. The choice of DVD goggles, hand paraffin wax, internet bar with complimentary hot and cold drinks and much more all add to that effort to go the extra mile to create that smile.  
The new technology within dentistry has changed dramatically, along with the new techniques and equipment that is available on the market. I suppose the biggest thing for the both of us would be the changes in the legislation and laws.

I do think the role of practice manager is an underrated one. As a manager you have to buff
everything away from the dentists in order for them to work clinically, manage the staff, do the accounts, marketing, interviewing, meetings, legal matters, etc.

I don’t think anyone really understands the volume of work that passes through a practice manager’s office on a day-to-day basis. As to what makes Senova an award-winning practice, well, I think it’s the outstanding work, patient care, new technology and the complete patient journey. And, of course, the team! The great ideas are usually collective as we adopt a very open forum for ideas.

Senova is quite high profile re: TV appearances and I manage this additional ‘stuff’ with priority checklists. I would not be without one. Plan, do and review and watch the results.
I believe we are at the forefront with all the latest ideas, techniques and most definitely the state-of-the-art practice, with all the new equipment. Plus, a good website, too. It’s the number one driver of any marketing, the key tool to driving new patients to enrol at your practice and an easy way to communicate to all and any ages. I get a real kick out of seeing a happy patient and, even more so, when they have taken the time to write a letter.

What time I get home can really depend on the day’s activities, but generally between 5.30-7.30pm according to the opening hours. I have to actually tell my husband to stop ‘talking shop’ as the habit of bringing your work home becomes compulsive. Having said that, he likes to offload after a busy day so it now has become another habit in my household.

As a teenager, I wanted to be a prosecution lawyer with the wig and black gown. I did start training as a legal executive when I left college, having studied sociology and law but I found the travelling into a busy London exhausting. I started a Christmas temp job with Boots and, after 24 years with them from sales assistant, sales manager and general manager of dentistry, I moved to Senova.

I don’t think I know how to relax. I love the art of pencil drawing and lying on a sun-drenched beach in Kos, Greece.

I tend to go to bed anytime from 9.30pm onwards but that can depend on how many ‘Kevin and Perry’ teenagers are still in my house.

Petra joined Senova Dental Studios as practice manager in 2006. She had previously worked for 24 years in retail, progressing to the role of sales manager. She attended many various in-house courses to enhance her business skills. As the company diversified, Petra took on a new challenge as practice manager, opening a dental practice. Later she became the practice manager of the company’s dental centre of excellence.


Petra is a member of the British Dental Practice Managers’ Association.

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