Q&A - Jill Taylor

Q&A with Jill Taylor, President, Association of Dental Administrators and Managers 

JILL Taylor became president of the Association of Dental Administrators and Managers (ADAM, formerly the BDPMA) in May 2011. She started in dentistry as a dental nurse before making the move into practice management three years ago. She works full-time as practice manager at Botanics Dental Care in Glasgow but her role as ADAM president takes her to meetings and seminars across the UK.

How did you get into dental practice management?

I started working as a dental nurse in 1994. Dentistry captured my interest immediately and I craved to learn more so in 1999 I completed a pilot course that was an ‘HND in healthcare supervisory development’. It gave me a great insight into health and safety, risk assessment and employment. I continued to work as a dental nurse, dabbling a bit in management, until 2008 when the practice I was working in was sold and the new practice owner, Colin Gardner, invited me to be his practice manager (PM). We knew that I would need some more training for that role and that was when I joined the BDPMA [British Dental Practice Managers’ Association].

What do you like most about the job?

The team. Without the support of the team and Colin, I would not be able to work properly as a PM. I have their full support and they know how much I appreciate them.

What is your biggest headache?

When I speak to PMs and they tell me that their dentist undermines them. This should never happen. When a PM makes a decision and the staff member is unhappy with that decision it should never be the case that they get their own way by complaining to the dentist. I admit I am lucky, but it also comes down to mutual respect. A PM can only do his/her role if he/she has the support of the team and most especially the principal. No staff member should ever play one off against the other.

Describe a typical working week.

I work full-time in the practice, as do all ADAM executive and regional team members. That’s why most of our communication is primarily via email. Our head office is in Gloucester and if we need a conference call we book it for an evening. The location of any team meetings varies - last time it was Glasgow, before that East Midlands. I pick up emails before work, lunchtimes and after work. I have alternate Fridays off and do a lot of ADAM duties on these days.

How can joining ADAM help make PMs better at their jobs?

ADAM is run by PMs for PMs. We fully understand what the role involves and can empathise with difficult decisions. We provide support and have our members-only area of the website, which is packed full of advice sheets and information to help PMs with the daily running of their practices/ clinics. We have seminars, the topics of which come from members’ feedback. We have our Facebook page too wherewe often address questions from managers who may have no one else to ask.

You recently changed the name from BDPMA to ADAM. Why?

The name enables us to broaden our membership to include all practice administrative team members. It is more inclusive. Many prospective members were put off joining the BDPMA as they felt that although they did the role of PM they were not recognised as a PM. This allows us to incorporate and support them.

What future plans are there for the organisation?

The aim of the association remains unchanged: to provide advice and guidance through coaching, mentoring and support for members that encourages their self-development through education and training.

We have a conference booked for May 18-19, 2012 at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate and we are delighted to be running that event in conjunction with MDDUS. It is an excellent programme and we are all very excited about it. We have our ADAM Awards: Practice Manager of the Year, Administrator of the Year and Treatment Co-ordinator of the Year. I will be on the judging panel alongside Hew Mathewson (MDDUS Special Adviser) and Roger Mathews (Chief Dental Officer, Denplan). The winner from each category will receive a cheque for £500.

How has dental practice management changed over the last 10 years?

It has changed hugely as more and more dentists are realising the benefit of having a fully functional practice manager. PM is not just a title, it is a role that has a huge impact on the business. Dentists are highly skilled individuals and so are practice managers. Dentists are valued by their patients and that is how it should be - dentists in surgery with patients, leaving the spreadsheets and staff issues to their trusted managers. What challenges do you see in the next 10 years? The current economic climate is the single biggest challenge for any business. With the most recent evidence from the Scottish Government suggesting that it could take a further 16 years to see Scotland back to the level it was at in 2008, we are all set for tough times.

Interview by Jim Killgore, associate editor of Practice Manager