Lama Brown from The Hampton Wick Dental Centre explains how her practice strives to give professional care with a personal touch
LB: I qualified with BDS in 1995 from the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’ London and then completed my vocational training in Colchester. Soon after I joined an NHS practice. I worked towards and obtained the MFGDP from the Royal College of Surgeons. That is when my ‘thirst’ for postgraduate training started. I left the NHS to complete a full-time training programme in periodontology at The Royal London Hospital. I qualified with a distinction and obtained the MClinDent (Periodontology). I then divided my time between several private practices treating patients with periodontal problems and working at the hospital. In December 2006, I brought my practice and decided to consolidate all my skills and run my own business. I’ve completed a diploma in endodontic practice and more recently, a diploma in executive management. I am presently the practice principal and run The Hampton Wick Dental Centre together with my husband Ronald Brown.What or who made you choose a career in dentistry and periodontology in particular?
My inspiration was my aunt who is a dentist. I looked up to her in awe as a child, watching her manage her career and family life. Being a bookworm and a people’s person myself, the choice was obvious. Working in the NHS at the start of my career, I realised that I enjoyed treatment planning and careful methodical execution of the plans. Periodontal treatment was always the starting point to laying down healthy foundations and often under the NHS, I felt restricted due to lack of time and funding. I decided to embark on the masters in periodontology to improve my skills, offer a better service and satisfy my quest for more knowledge.
Can you tell us about your practice and how it is structured?
The practice offers a wide range of private treatments. I am the full-time dentist and most treatments are offered by myself including general dentistry, periodontology, implantology, Invisalign and cosmetic dentistry. My work is complemented by a skilled endodontist and oral surgeon. The practice has been recently refurbished with state-of-the-art equipment including a 3D CT scanner and the latest acquisition is an intraoral Cerec scanner allowing us to offer the latest dental treatments to our patients and all under one roof. My husband is the manager and a dental hygienist and dedicated nurses complete the team. Since purchasing the practice we have worked hard to evolve it into a centre of excellence and a referral practice for the local community and neighbouring towns. We strive to deliver clinical excellence and professional care but with a personal touch for our patients many of which have become friends of the practice.
Can you tell us about your typical working week?
My working week is always busy, varied but exciting. I could be offering general dentistry to children, periodontology, Invisalign, cosmetic dentistry and working closely with the oral surgeon on sinus lifts or bone grafting cases under IV sedation all in the same week. The nurses are very efficient at transferring between treatments and the surgeries are well equipped and ergonomically designed to accommodate all the different treatments. My working day is often pleasantly interrupted by one of our friendly patients popping in for a chat or a cup of coffee or to recommend a friend or family member.
What have been your best decisions? In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?
Throughout my career my best decisions have been investing in my education and postgraduate training which has enabled me to offer the varied disciplines in my practice successfully. I would have liked to have started my postgraduate training earlier in my career but soon after my VT year I got married and was juggling two young children with my studies and work.Can you tell us about your lecturing?The science behind periodontology and especially regenerative surgery fascinates me. I have given several lectures on the subject at local BDA meetings and the British Society of Dental Research. When my practicing time allows me, I would like to return to The Royal London and teach periodontology to the undergraduate students. How important is patient communication to you?
Patient communication is at the heart of the service we offer. Gaining the patient’s trust by communicating to them the treatment they need in a way that they can understand is so important. At the practice we endeavour to make our surroundings, ambience and approach so relaxed that patients feel at ease to talk to us about their needs comfortably. This style of patient management continues throughout their journey and they leave as friends. We have invested heavily in a first class website which is rich in content. Patients can refer to the site in their own time to learn more about their treatment options. The intraoral camera and intraoral Cerec scanner are invaluable for first hand demonstration and education.How do you stay abreast of modern techniques?
Staying abreast of modern techniques is vital not only to improve my knowledge and skills and offer patients what is best for them in an informed manner backed by scientific research, but also to keep up with the competitive market. I have been lucky to have undertaken so many postgraduate courses in so many disciplines which has kept my finger on the pulse of the evolving dental world. Now that I am so busy in practice, I rely on reading dental journals and attending day courses or conferences specific to the treatments I offer. The company representatives who visit the practice on a regular basis have been invaluable in introducing us to the latest in many fields but especially implant and digital dentistry.
Professionally, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the practice as it stands. With the help of my husband, we have not only modernised the building, treatment rooms and facilities, but we have grown a strong business based purely on word-of-mouth and personal recommendation. It has been a very personal, literally hands on project and a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice went not only into the clinical side but also the transformation of the gardens into a picturesque scene and the design of the practice décor (where I discovered my flair for interior design!).Where do you get your motivation and drive from?
I have always been a very motivated and driven person from a young age, with a competitive attitude towards my academics. Early on in my dental career I constantly wanted to improve my knowledge and better myself as a professional. Lately I have become more involved in the business side of dentistry and the excitement of running and growing the business is my motivational force. I will always strive for excellence personally and professionally and I try to instil this work ethic in my four children by leading by example so that they can develop into proud individuals.How do you relax in your spare time? How do you balance work and family life?
Now that the weather is nice, spending time in the practice gardens is so fulfilling. I relax by getting in my car and driving to see my mother, family and friends. I am trying to train myself to leave ‘work at work’. This is naturally hard when you run your own business as my brain is always ‘buzzing’ with ideas on how to move the business forwards. Weekends are dedicated to my family, husband and children and our five-year-old twin boys certainly keep us busy with their various activities and mini social diary!What lessons have you learned in the course of your career?
During the course of my career I have learnt that hard work certainly pays off. Growing the business has taught me to become patient, which is difficult for my type A personality! Rome was not built in a day, but organic growth and methodical planning and execution of all the business decisions since purchasing the practice has taken me to where I am today, working in and running a centre of excellence I am proud of.Do you have any regrets?
Some of the decision making in the practice has resulted in slower outcomes but positive outcomes nonetheless. I have no regrets.What are your plans for the future?
Digital dentistry is the way forward. Integrating that into daily practice is a strategy we intend to implement to stay competitive and offer a better service, especially in implantology and guided surgery. I am also going to be focusing on my family and growing the business. I may slip in the Fellowship from The Royal College of Surgeons to add to my portfolio!