A golden future
About the owners
The practice is owned by Dr Lisa Currie and Ivin Tan.
Lisa is a consultant orthodontist. Qualifying at Dundee in 1996, she spent VT at a general practice in Edinburgh before going into hospital training and doing house jobs for several years. Lisa became a specialist orthodontist in 2003 and undertook consultant training in Birmingham Dental Hospital and Stoke-on-Trent, becoming a consultant orthodontist in 2006. She has also completed a research masters degree in sleep apnoea and is an honorary senior lecturer at Aberdeen Dental Hospital. Lisa first joined The Orthodontic Clinic in 2010.
Ivin is managing director of the practice. She is originally from Malaysia where she owned several design and printing businesses.
Lisa and Ivin bought the clinic in July 2014 and moved the business to the new site in September 2018.
Tell us about your new practice
The building is over four floors. The basement has a staff room, our lab and a lecture room where we do in-house tutorials and postgraduate training.
The ground floor is our clinical floor. We have the reception area and waiting room and six dental chairs. There are two enclosed private surgeries and four others which are “semi-open-plan” separated by glass panels.
We have a separate X-ray room housing a digital OPT/ceph machine, and our LDU is on this level. It houses two large, under-bench washer disinfectors.
On the first floor is our admin space. It includes a large open-plan office with space for bookkeeping and other admin duties, as well as hot-desking for nurses. There’s a separate meeting room as well as Lisa and Ivin’s office. The top floor is used for storage.
Our equipment includes four autoclaves, a water purifier system and two large compressors – one regular and one back-up. We are in the process of securing an intra-oral scanner which should be with us soon.
Tell us about your staff and their areas of specialty
Dr Lisa Currie and Dr Daria Rodolfino are the specialist orthodontists. There are two orthodontic therapists who can adjust braces (based on prescription from the clinician) and carry out fitting. The team includes a part-time GDP, eight fully qualified dental nurses and a full-time lab technician. There are two full-time receptionists and two admin staff.
Have you noticed any changes in popularity of the services you provide?
The practice offers NHS and private treatment. We provide a tooth whitening service, and Lisa’s expertise in sleep apnoea means we can offer treatment for patients with this condition or a snoring problem with bespoke anti-snoring devices. We are witnessing ever-growing demand for orthodontic services and more aesthetic treatments.
What prompted you to open this practice?
The previous site was based on one floor and was a four-chair practice – we were struggling to meet the increasing demand. Even if we wanted to hire more people there was nowhere to put them. The move was to give us more space and future-proof the practice. It gives us the potential to expand our team if that’s needed.
Tell us about the community you serve
In this part of the country, we are fortunate that people are quite prepared to travel for treatment. We have patients who come from far and wide – Aberdeenshire, Morayshire and Inverness-shire.
Does the building have an interesting history?
It’s a lovely granite building – tall and impressive – that we believe dates from the 1800s.
Before we moved in, the building was divided into different suites occupied by oil sector companies, and it is very close to our previous location, which was also in Golden Square.
We purposely moved only a short distance. We were on the lookout for new premises for a year or two and when this building came up we thought it was perfect. We are right behind the Aberdeen Music Hall, which is a great location – it’s easy to remember and there are lots of people passing by.
How was the planning process and securing finance?
The planning process took a little while. Among other things, we had to apply for change of use. Ivin has a background in design as well as business and she came up with the initial ideas on how we could best shape the building to meet our needs. Meanwhile, we had an excellent architect who helped us draw up the plans. We had to apply for a business mortgage to purchase the building but apart from that everything was self-financed.
What renovations or structural changes were needed?
We did have to completely reform the inside of the building but thankfully that did not involve knocking down any load-bearing walls or any other big structural changes. Of course, we had to make the building suitable for people with a disability, and because it’s a period property we had to make sure we working with the proper consents. Everything was relatively straightforward, though the process did take a little while.
How long did the whole process take? Any major hurdles?
It took us around 18 months from the date of purchase to get the building up and running. There were no major hurdles along the way. We didn’t hire a project manager, which meant we had to oversee the whole process while still looking after the business. We had no life outside for the 18 months, which makes it even more satisfying now that we’re enjoying life in the new practice!
What sort of training do you provide for staff?
Lisa holds a tutorial in our lecture room every Wednesday evening. These are based around topical subjects – it may be something that’s cropped up in the practice that day or could be skills-based training for the staff as required. Because Lisa lectures at the dental hospital, there is a good bank of material and clinical cases that can be dipped into.
Most of our nurses are trained to take impressions and have completed a radiography course; one has been through specialist orthodontic nurse training.
We like our staff to be CPD-focused. We take almost all the team to the British Orthodontic Conference annually, paying for attendance, travel and accommodation – we feel this is important to keep up to date with current thinking in the specialty, and
to encourage camaraderie and team building.
We have won several awards down the years, mostly underpinned by our philosophy that the team is our best asset.
Are there any facilities specifically designed for employees?
It’s a very comfortable environment. Among other things we have created a huge staff room that looks out onto an enclosed courtyard. Our staff can get out there for a break if needs be. There’s a separate staff toilet and shower room, everyone has their own locker and we have two car parking spaces that are rotated between staff.
Are there any facilities specifically designed for patients?
Our aim all along was to make the surroundings plush and luxurious. We believe that’s clear as soon as you walk in. We have a self-check-in system that makes the practicalities simpler for patients. The waiting area is extremely comfortable. As far as the treatment rooms are concerned we chose to have high-quality Belmont Voyager chairs with top of the range upholstery – every aspect was considered. In Lisa’s surgery there is a two-seater sofa so if treating a young person, their parents can attend the session if they’d like to be on hand.
How would you describe the ethos of the practice?
The awards we’ve won have been based around being Best Team and Best Employer. We know that a successful practice depends on having staff who are happy, highly trained, professional and inspired. When patients come to see us they can see there’s a positive atmosphere and this is a great place to work. It’s also unusual to have a consultant trained orthodontist like Lisa working full-time in practice. That gives us a different level of experience and exclusivity.
What were the personal challenges and how did you overcome them?
Since we managed the project ourselves it was a period of high pressure. However, it was enjoyable too since we knew what the end product would be. The big challenges were time management and co-ordinating the contractors. It was especially tough since we had to run the practice at the same time. The secret to success was a great deal of careful planning and a real passion
for this project with the promise of a fantastic place for all our team to work.
What do you enjoy about being in the practice?
It has been a pleasure to see the renewed enthusiasm of our staff as they enjoy our new surroundings. As soon as we came in on the first day there was a great feeling of space, comfort and luxury. I think everyone is delighted with the new practice – notably, people are getting their families to come in and have a look around. We are very proud of it.
Now that we have settled in, our immediate focus is on staff development – we are determined to make full use of this state-of-the-art practice for the benefit of our team and our patients.