Chasing dreams – our experience at the Dentistry Awards 2020

best practice awardClaire Nightingale shares her award experience after winning Best Practice London and Best Overall Practice at the Dentistry Awards 2020.

Queens Gate Orthodontics: fact file

  • Founded as a private specialist squat in 1989 and I bought the practice in 2012
  • We are a small independent business; a personal, one-off, specialist orthodontic practice, where everyone is genuinely treated as an individual and an obsessional hands-on owner pays great attention to every detail
  • Small enough to care, but big enough to deliver
  • A team with big hearts and small hands
  • We are quirky. Our décor can’t be branded. The colourful London mural was chosen because we love the South Bank. Our waiting room resembles the Royal Albert Hall because we enjoy performance
  • Informal and relaxed. We are humorous. Laughter isn’t restricted to leisure hours. Working life consumes too much of the day not to see the funny side in working hours
  • We are communicative and take time to listen to understand patient needs
  • Beautifully located
  • Above all, we are professional, honest, diligent, reflective, aspirant for excellence and hard working.

How do you feel to have won at the 2020 Dentistry Awards?

Claire Nightingale (CN): My team and I are absolutely over the moon! To win one award would have been above expectations, but to win two was more than we could have possibly hoped for. To be chosen as the Best Practice both in London and in the UK is testament to the hard work that we have all put in.

Why do you think you won?

CN: I hope that the judges recognised the whole team’s commitment to patient care, both in the outcome of treatment but also in being valued as individuals – even in the times of COVID-19.

We manage our patient case load so that resources aren’t stretched, and everyone gets the time that they deserve. Sometimes that may mean that we are a little overstaffed but our reputation for great patient care is paramount.

We want to make our patients feel special on every visit, while managing their expectations and those of the referrer and parent, where appropriate. As multiple attendances are required for orthodontic treatment, that’s a big challenge!

Why did you choose to enter the Dentistry Awards?

CN: I had been considering entering the awards for some time and then a chance meeting at a British Orthodontic Society consultant meeting in 2019 with Chris Baker from Corona Marketing Limited made me realise how much work was involved and that I needed to get cracking!

What do the Dentistry Awards mean to you?

CN: I think it is the recognition of my peers that is important. Often in dentistry we can become somewhat insular as we concentrate on our own practices and we are not always aware of what others may be doing or fearful that we are poor in comparison. Therefore, when you enter a ceremony as prestigious as the Dentistry Awards, you can worry that you will come up short. I’ve never really known what success looks like and whether our practice compared. Now I know. That is why we are so delighted with our double win!

What do you think the Dentistry Awards are doing to raise the standards of the profession?

CN: I know that traditionally some in healthcare professions have been reticent about being involved with award ceremonies. However, I don’t agree. The Dentistry Awards allow us to celebrate all that is good in modern orthodontics and dentistry. Far from seeing it as a hostile environment in which dentists compete with one another, winning this award gives us legitimacy and allows us to compete more confidently with the new car, holiday and other discretionary purchases that our patients are considering investing in, instead of their smile.

What feedback have you received from your patients since winning your award?

CN: Our patients have been thrilled! We have obviously featured our winner’s stories in patient communications, on our website and in local media, as well as having the trophies proudly on display in the practice.

Patients love the fact that their orthodontist and practice has been given the award as it validates their own choice. I’m really delighted when they say: ‘Well, I’m not at all surprised!’

Have you got any advice you would like to pass onto dentists who are thinking of entering the Dentistry Awards this year?

CN: Definitely do it! Aside from the winning, we found that the whole experience brought our team closer together. It is also wonderful to be left with a comprehensive document that illustrates a retrospective of my practising life; how we got here, where we are now and how we can move forward.

Will you be entering again this year?

CN: We very much hope to and if we do, we’ll consider entering for the Best Patient Care, Most Improved Practice and Best Website categories.

What is the secret to a successful practice?

CN: Always the people! Yes, we have to have systems, the latest technology, compliance and 1,001 other things, but dentistry is about the right team members looking after patients and making sure they leave delighted. Nothing builds a practice like delighted patients.

How do you see the dental profession changing/evolving in the future?

CN: I think the last 12 months have shown us that a great deal more of the patient journey can be done remotely. We were already offering remote dental monitoring before COVID-19 came along but that has expanded in a big way. I’m embracing all things digital and excited by the latest technological developments.

Have you any advice you would pass onto newly qualified/aspiring dentists?

CN:  Chase your dreams. Whatever you feel you want to achieve as a clinician, don’t let anyone put you off and be single-minded in your pursuit of it. Be resilient and turn negative experiences into positives.

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

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