Insights from a dental liaison manager
Andrew Bird and Joe Green, dental liaison managers at the DDU, explain what their role involves, how they support members and how COVID-19 has changed this.
What does being a dental liaison manager (DLM) involve?
AB: The DLM role involves being a point of contact to support all our members. Both physically and remotely throughout the UK.
Our role starts with a person’s first steps into dental school. We remain with them throughout their entire career path.
We support our members by way of education, training and seminars within the dental schools, foundation programmes, hospitals and practices.
The DLM’s bring the DDU into the field. So our members do not have to go hunting for information or support. We want to make things as simple, accessible and hassle free as possible!
JG: As a DLM I support all dental professionals ranging from dental students at university, dental care professionals and hospital dentists, alongside associates and principals in private practice.
My time is spent between supporting our existing DDU members, by acting as a point of contact for any questions they may have, and liaising with prospective new DDU members.
Why did you become a DLM?
JG: I started as a student and foundation liaison manager (SFLM). This involves overseeing the activity for medical students and newly-qualified medics.
I wanted to further develop my skills, using my experience as a SFLM to become a DLM in 2016.
The variation in the role of a DLM is what appealed to me most. One day I might present to final-year dental students at a university. The next I am delivering a CPD seminar to a whole dental practice.
AB: I initially joined the MDU as a liaison manager to medical students. So I was already familiar with the outstanding work the organisation did for its medical members.
A DLM opportunity arose and I enjoyed the role immediately. I’m not someone who likes to plod along. So the prospect of identifying opportunities to both further develop the role and me was exciting.
How has your role changed during the pandemic?
JG: The pandemic resulted in a change of approach. It has taken away the face-to-face interaction with members. We carry out work remotely. I have delivered teaching seminars to graduating hygienists and therapists via video.
Regardless of the lack of physical interaction with members and those wishing to join the DDU, we have ensured that we are there to provide support and answers when needed.
AB: Initially I felt my role changed significantly. I would normally travel throughout the UK seeing members.
However, when I reflected on my role and it hinging on the needs of our members and how we support them, I soon realised that fundamentally the role remains the same and needed more than ever.
Our support currently is largely delivered remotely by way of phone calls, emails and video.
We benefit from our role as we have already established good working relations with our members. So working together delivering our high levels of support continues.
How have you supported dental members during the pandemic?
AB: Circumstances are both unprecedented and ambiguous. This results in great angst for our members.
The DLMs recognise this and we have achieved the great task of adjusting to a new working environment, continuing with an unrivalled level of service.
My support continues by way of accessibility and empathy for all members and non-members.
Many members call me for advice regarding their membership and circumstances in general. I will happily talk it through at length and offer solutions to meet their current needs.
JG: During the pandemic we have been busy with an increase in calls regarding members’ indemnity, their working circumstances and making any alterations to their level of indemnity if working hours have changed.
What advice can you give to members preparing to return to work?
AB: My best advice is to keep an eye on our website and social media platforms.
Guidance remains fluid. So knowing where to find up-to-date DDU information is a great start.
Our dentolegal advisers (DLAs) remain available to all members if they have a specific dentolegal-related query outside of the information and FAQs available on the website.
I have members say they may withdraw their application as their role was suspended. I would advise anyone in that situation to contact their local DLM. We can have your membership and indemnity back in place for when you resume work.
For all the latest guidance and advice on returning to work and other dentolegal topics, please visit theddu.com/coronavirus.
Where can members find sources of support?
JG: If a member is returning to work and is looking for advice there are several articles, podcasts and videos on the DDU website. Under the ‘guidance and advice’ section.
AB: My DLM colleagues and I are available to advise and support members. We can help you with membership, indemnity and training needs. And we can put you in contact with our colleagues in other departments should your needs fall outside of our role.
Can you tell me more about the employee assistance programme?
AB: Dentistry in particular is subject to many challenges throughout the pandemic. This causes a great deal of unrest both professionally and personally.
We have introduced a new benefit to members, the employee assistance programme, which is a free, health and wellbeing helpline providing 24-hour, confidential advice, support and information on areas such as financial wellbeing, legal information and childcare.
You can find further information at theddu.com/employmentlaw.
What is Groupcare and what benefits does it offer members?
JG: Groupcare is the DDU’s scheme, launched to support both the practice as a whole alongside the individuals within the scheme.
There are many benefits of Groupcare including discounts on individual subscription costs, access to a health and safety helpline, free vicarious liability and a range of CPD practice seminars.
Myself or one of our other DLMs would deliver these practice seminars.
If any member would like to discuss this further with me, I would be more than happy to help.
Alternatively you can find more information at theddu.com/groupcare.