Do I really need a practice manager?

practice managerHazel Adams highlights why a practice manager is essential to your practice.

Most dental practices will have a practice manager who is responsible for the non-clinical and business aspect of the surgery. Practice managers do not need to be registered by the GDC. However, they must keep up-to-date with GDC guidelines. They also ensure that all employees follow these guidelines and register if required.

With the skills and knowledge to oversee the smooth running of the practice, this then enables the dentists to concentrate on what they need to do in surgery. 

Key responsibilities of the practice manager are:

  • Admin management including complaints handling
  • Finance management
  • Human resources including staffing.

Initial point of contact

Being the initial point of contact for patient complaints, practice managers will address any non-clinical aspects. If the complaint relates to treatment, the relevant dentist will understandably want to respond to any elements relating to the treatment which they have provided. 

Practice managers ensure that all complaints received are recorded, acknowledged, and full responses provided promptly.

To recognise a patient’s dissatisfaction and also to deal with complaints effectively, all members of the dental team must receive adequate training from the outset. New team members may not join your practice with all the skills and knowledge needed. It is, however, imperative that you address this immediately.  

The practice manager is most likely to deliver this training, as well as providing regular refresher training for all staff which incorporate any changes in procedures.

Visible complaints procedure

It is vital that the practice has an in-house complaints procedure which is visible and accessible to all patients; all members of the dental team must then consistently follow this. Having this process in place provides patients with exact steps to take should they need to complain and also, what communication to expect from the practice and when.

A practice manager will know her team well and where their strengths and also areas for improvement lie. This enables them to delegate tasks to the most appropriate team member. A healthy team environment is created where everyone is comfortable raising any concerns they may have.

Standards are set not just in terms of complaints handling but also expected professional behaviour, which needs to be consistently followed by the whole team to protect the reputation of the practice.


Despite the limited time, scheduling and chairing regular team meetings allow the practice manager to keep all team members updated. Reports are presented on how the practice is progressing and any challenges they may be facing.

There is also an opportunity for the team to raise any concerns, highlight issues and share information – which builds a strong working relationship.

Ultimately, the practice manager is crucial to the success of your practice. Their support and management of any other matters enables you to focus on your patients.

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This article first appeared in Private Dentistry magazine. You can read the latest issue here. 

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