Bath Life – Winners Stories

12 Sep 2016

Dermot McNulty

Last month Bath Life Magazine published an interview with Dermot about what it felt like to win a Bath Life Award. Here is the full text of the interview.

So how did it feel to win a Bath Life Award? How did you celebrate? And where is your award now? It was fantastic to win a Bath Life award after being a finalist for the previous two years. We celebrated on the night by opening the bottle of champagne and sharing it with the team table.  The award now has pride of place on the shelf in the reception area of the practice, so that all our visitors can see it. We are still celebrating the achievement now, as people still comment on the award.

What do you think makes Bath Spa Dentistry stand out from its competitors? We are one of the leading private referral dental practices in Bath and are renowned as being one of the centres of advanced and restorative dentistry in the UK. We have invested heavily in new technologies to ensure that we remain a state of the art dental practice to be able to offer our patients the very best solutions to their dental problems.  We have our own on-site laboratory and the latest Cone Beam CT scanner which is also used by other local dentists.  We are one of the few dental practices in the country to offer our own range of training courses for dentists and the dental team.  And we are the official dentistry partner to Bath Rugby and have been for the last 3 seasons.  We are also a multi-award winning dental practice.

How did you get into dentistry? I qualified at Birmingham University in 1982 and opened the Oral Health Centre in Bath in 1991, before starting up Bath Spa Dentistry in 2002. I have been practising implant dentistry since 1987, when I also embarked on extensive post-graduate education in aesthetic and restorative dentistry, and learnt from some of the finest dental clinicians in the world. I completed the implant diploma at the Royal College of Surgeons in 2005 and have been involved in the delivery of that programme as a lecturer, examiner and cohort director since 2007.

Did you always want to be a dentist? My parents and grandparents were all involved in Medicine, my father was a radiologist in Bath. I imagine that it was a shock when I chose Dentistry! It was a late decision as I had places at universities to study law and history. I gave these up and took a year out and decided to apply to dental school during this time. 

How would you describe your job? Every day is different. One day I could be in surgery for nine hours, giving a whole new smile to a patient with a complete set of new fixed teeth, and the next I could be discussing a range of cosmetic and aesthetic procedures with another patient. Fridays are different as I teach, either my own implant courses in Bath or as a Lecturer, Examiner and Course Director for the Royal College of Surgeons in London. I am fortunate enough to be asked to speak at many educational centres throughout Europe on Implant Dentistry. There is therefore huge variety in my work.

Do you think people have any misconceptions about dentists / dentistry? And if so, what are they? And is that changing? Before we had the internet and social media, most people only saw their dentist once a year (if at all) and that was the only opportunity dentists had to make an impression and build rapport with their patients.  This may be why some people were scared of visiting their dentists as they were possibly seen as being unapproachable. Our patients can now engage with us 24/7 through our website, emails, and social media channels and we can be much more approachable, responsive and friendly towards them.  I always make a point to chat with my patients before during and after treatment, to put them at ease. Our whole team ethos is to make patients feel like an individual and well looked after during their treatment with us.  We see ourselves as being friendly and professional at all times.

What have been your career highlights / proudest accomplishment so far? Dentistry like any business is constantly changing and I have always stepped out of my ‘comfort zone’ to progress further. It took many years to find the right site for the new practice build and completely renovate it. Now working within this environment has been very rewarding even though there are limitations with every new project. My involvement with the Implant teaching programme at the Royal College of Surgeons  is also something I am pleased to be associated with as there are so many extremely capable implant dentists all moving in the same direction. We are now in its 18th Cohort intake, most of the recognised Implant dentists in the UK have passed through this training programme so it is very rewarding to be associated with its manatgement and delivery.

Do you think being an active part of the community is important in business? Certainly in Bath where its a small enough city that people know you and know about your business.  Over the last few years we have got more involved in local charities and work closely with Bath Rugby as their Dentistry Partner.  We also run free evening study group sessions for local dentists, which helps us be involved in local dental community too.  We get involved in more business events and initiatives too, we are an independent business in a city full of other independents, and know the importance of supporting each other.  Bath is big enough to have a lot to offer, but also small enough to be friendly.

What are the future plans for the practice? The practice is expanding rapidly as we build a base of dentists as specialists or experts in their fields. In the autumn we will have joining us an “endodontist” or root canal dentist. The aim is to steadily progress to have all the requirements for advanced dentistry under one roof but at the same time provide a base for caring general dentistry.

What do you do when you’re not working? Like most self employed business people work takes up most of my time but I enjoy this more than ever. However I am part of a large family and have five children, and no matter their age I am fortunate to be heavily involved in their lives. Sport has always been an important part of my life and continues to do so. I have been heavily involved in various guises with Bradford on Avon rugby Club for over 10  years which has been really therapeutic. The business is involved with Bath Rugby so fortunately I can mix work with pleasure as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? I had a very straightforward Geordie boss in my first position in Birmingham following a couple of years in surgical hospital environment. His first words to me were” Son, don’t hurt people and put front fillings in which don’t fall out” this was in 1983, the principles have stayed with me! The second piece of advice I recall was from another experienced and successful dental practitioner, he suggested to me that “our patients put themselves entirely in our hands in an extremely vulnerable position and as such we should feel privileged and act accordingly.” Both these comments are apt in their own way and have shaped the way in which I feel my business has looked after our patients/customers.

Describe your ideal day. I enjoy clinical dentistry and I am fortunate involve myself predominantly  in reconstructive dentistry involving dental implants. It has become a fast moving and innovative area of dentistry which can really change lives.

What do you love about Bath? Bath has everything to offer, from the visitor attractions, including Thermae Bath Spa, to the variety of independent shops, huge array of restaurants and of course the architecture and culture.  Bath actually has statistically more dentists per head than anywhere other than London in the UK. Bath has been called the ‘mini Harley Street’ of the South West, so the local residents and business owners are very well served for cosmetic and general dentistry, so it’s a great place to be in business.

Did your mum ever have to tell you to brush your teeth? This was a while ago, but I do remember continuous reminders with both myself and my brothers and sisters!

What’s your favourite sweet thing? Sugar is one of my addictions I am afraid..so anything.

What might we be surprised to learn about you? I have become on of the “mamils” earlier this year and really loving it!

For more information about Dermot visit our website.

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