The Swords Orthodontics Highlights of 2018
There might be a review of the year from my team, but for me these were the practice highlights of 2018 - the professional ones anyway. There were many personal highlights for the team, but they can tell you about them since .......well, they're personal.
Swords Orthodontics supports a number of local sports teams and 2018 was our second year as the sponsor of Swords Rugby Team. In 2017, Stephen joined the team for a basic evening of training and it nearly levelled him – he has the greatest respect for the skills and fitness of the people playing rugby.
Between this and our times with other local teams including Fingallians and Clann Mhuire GAA and Portrane Hockey Team, it’s amazing to see the commitment that these groups of people put in. Week in, week out, for no rewards and probably little thanks, men and women freely give up their time to train and referee and feed and drive and organise competitors in sports all around the country. We’re lucky to see so much of it locally in Fingal and North Dublin.
Particularly I was aware of this when I went to cheer on Swords Rugby team in their final match of the season where they were contending the Leinster Championship in their league. It was a grey night in Boyne Park for our match against North Meath. No packed stadium, no glamour, no luck with the weather but unimaginable passion and determination to succeed. But it was not to be.
And so they will continue their efforts in 2019 for this season and we wish them the best of luck with it!
In early March we had severe weather warnings and the worst snow this decade. Road closures and rapid food buying was typical while the rest of us sat tight and watched it on the news and made snowmen. In Swords Orthodontics, some of the team were stuck in their homes as snow drifts piled up outside their houses, and many of the patients weren’t going to be able to come in. Since our appointments would be considered non-essential travel, it wasn’t wise to ask people to come in for their brace adjustments. I was so proud of my team that could make it in on foot coming in and calling all our patients to change the appointments – and then all the extra hours they put in the following weeks to make up for all the lost appointments.
COMPLIANCE AND REGULATIONS
It’s a bit dull, and it’s largely invisible to the patients that receive their treatment with us, but it all has got to be done. Rules, regulations, compliance, standards and official guidelines. That’s the difference between going to a registered dentist in Ireland and some of the alternatives. The requirements in 2019 took a bit of a leap as the practice now has to comply with GDPR (the European General Data Protection Requirements) and we also complied with the Garda Vetting procedures.
Within the dental profession there was some uncertainty as to whether dentists need to be approved by National Vetting Bureau, but since many of our many of our patients are children, it would be best if we complied with the procedures so we sorted that out early in the year.
Also in the first part of the year – May 25th to be precise – the entire European Union changed its data protection laws, to become even more strict. Ever since dental school, we were operating in an environment of respect for patient confidentiality and personal information. Over the years this has become more of a matter for legal enforcement rather than just a professional behaviour, and so this was just a progression to a new level of data protection. It was a major headache for businesses all over the nation, particularly the small ones. Fortunately, Swords Orthodontics has been looking after patient data the way it should be, so it was largely a matter of documenting this and sorting out a few details – there were still things to be learned and upgraded though – including a change to our encryption and email procedures.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF ORTHODONTISTS 2018 MEETING
I went to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) in 2019, it would be my last as president of the OSI.
This year it was held in Washington DC, around the corner from The White House, but I didn’t see Donald Trump apart from on some fridge magnets which I brought back as presents to the team. I attended the annual meeting of Presidents of the World Federation of Orthodontists, and this would also be my last time doing it as president.
ORTHODONTIC SOCIETY OF IRELAND
I ended my presidency of the Orthodontic Society of Ireland (OSI) after 2 years. Over that time I presided over four scientific conference meetings – Belfast, Dublin (twice) and Galway, four cities that I am connected to professionally. The Belfast meeting was the first one that the OSI held north of the border and it was the first time we’d been in Galway in 10 years.
In 2018 we held our longest ever meeting (Dublin) and our busiest ever meeting (Galway). I met some fascinating speakers on the subject of orthodontics and others - including Simonas Grybauskas and Jim Power at our spring meeting. Simonas is the organiser of the Baltic Sea Conference on Oral Surgery and Orthodontics (BSCOSO) and one of the world's most popular speakers in his field of orthognathic surgery- he was amazingly popular with our members as a speaker. JIm Power is a well known economist who is often on radio and TV, and was avidly listened to by the orthodontists, particularly the ones who were thinking of retiring or buying a house.
I handed over the chains to the next president in November, and although I still will be involved with the organisation as the “immediate past president”, but I will now have more time to devote to Swords Orthodontics.
AWARDS PRESENTATION AT THE DUBLIN DENTAL HOSPITAL
As OSI president, I presented two awards in 2018 to graduates at Trinity College Dublin – one to the dental student with the highest marks in orthodontics at finals (this year it was Caoimhe McKenna), and one to the dental technician with the highest marks in the orthodontics part of their dental technology course (this year it was Sarah O’Connor).
CAREERS NIGHT ARDGILLAN
I was flattered to be asked to attend Careers Night at Ardgillan Community College and discuss dentistry and orthodontics as a career choice with any of the students who were choosing their subjects for their exams or university applications. As a result, I used this as an opportunity to reflect on my career and ask many of my colleagues to consider their own career choice and what advice they’d give to someone preparing for university and thinking of embarking on a career. This ended up as a blog post, and the answers were quite surprising and not all positive.
AESTHETIC DENTISTRY AWARDS
For the second year we entered, Swords Orthodontics made the shortlist in a few categories in the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards – which is open to practices across the UK and Ireland, so there is an enormous field of dentists and their teams competing for these prizes, so the standard is very high.
To our delight, we were Highly Commended for our Invisalign Treatments and in the Patient Choice Award. Apart from the actual prizes, the best bit about making the short list is being invited to the Finals in London, so it’s an exciting opportunity for the Swords Ortho crew to get dressed up to the max.
Which we did with highly commendable results.
There aren't many Dental Celebrities, but we got to meet one - three if you count his eyebrows separately - Dr Milad Shadrooh, the singing dentist.
TEAM LINE UP
We had a few changes in the Swords Ortho crew. Bogdan, who had been our technician for several years, wanted to progress his career and knew he would need experience in areas of dental technology other than orthodontics. Since we specialise in orthodontics, he needed to move on to another job at another location to get that experience and he’s now working in the area of dental implants and dentures. Our new technician, James, joined a few months later. Our dental nurse Martina left us in the spring to have an adventure in Australia, and we took on two new team members – Emma and Lisa – and then Martina came back to us to cover some maternity leave just before the year ended. Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
NEW ASSOCIATE JOINS THE SQUAD
Swords Orthodontics took on a third specialist orthodontist – Claire Higgins joined Stephen and Donnchadh O Morain, and will be providing evening sessions to increase the availability of appointments for our patients.
AWARD FOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EXCELLENCE
So recent, I haven’t actually blogged about it yet! Swords Orthodontics won a very special award at the end of November – the Fingal Dublin Chamber award for Customer Experience Excellence. In the past, we have made the shortlist, been commended and outright won other awards but this one was a bit different – it had nothing to do with dentistry. These awards are contested by businesses offering all sorts of services - retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, exporters, importers, public sector and non-profit organisations, so it was great to even be recognised amongst such a diverse range of businesses, but a total shock to hear our name called out as the winner. For an added bonus to getting the trophy, it was handed to me by broadcasting legend Marty Whelan. (This was extra funny because another RTE presenter, Joe Duffy, handed us our Sensitive Dentist award a couple of years ago.)
ORTHODONTIC PRACTICE OF THE YEAR
And the winner is… “Swords Orthodontics!” Right at the end of the year, the weekend before the last week of clinics, we won the Irish Beauty Industry Awards. I wish the team was with me for that, but since it was so close to Christmas they had various family commitments, but it was a great way to round off the professional side of the practice year.
It's a great time to thank my team for all their hard work in making Swords Orthodontics what it is - I hope our year ahead is as enjoyable.