Katie Rowe was crowned ‘Dental Nurse of the Year’ at the 23rd annual Dental Awards ceremony on Friday and Smile Together was equally thrilled to have been one of just 5 finalists in the much coveted ‘Dental Practice of the Year’ and ‘Practice Decontamination Award’.

Hosted by BBC weather presenter and meteorologist Sarah Keith-Lucas, this year’s ceremony took place as a virtual event but this didn’t dampen the excitement as Katie was announced winner!
Whilst she was temporarily rendered speechless with surprise and delight, Dental Director Jonathan Bouwer-Davies explains: “We can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award! Katie is a skilled and highly respected dental nurse who constantly ‘goes the extra mile’ for her colleagues and her patients – she is efficient, caring and inspirational in her willingness to get involved.”

Inspired to begin a dental nursing apprenticeship aged 17, Katie worked in general practice before joining Smile Together in 2015. She worked across a broad range of services within the company before settling into her current Special Care role primarily supporting the community team, dental nursing for patients with often very complex health conditions. Katie still works across teams as required including supporting out-of-hours provision evenings/weekends and was one of the first dental nurses working in Cornwall’s first Urgent Dental Care Hub which became operational on Easter Saturday 2020. She helped others transition into the new way of working and adapt to the challenges presented by Covid-19.

Smile Together is an employee-owned dental community interest company and Katie was elected by her colleagues to represent them on the Shareholder Impact Board, a position she’s proudly held for the last 3 years. She recently stood for a 2nd term and as an active member she attends Smile Together Board and other formal committee meetings, giving thoughtful insight into the workings of the business and delivery of patient care, and is a bold, authentic voice for her colleagues.

In 2018 Katie generously stepped forward to be our first dental nurse lead for Smiles at Sea, taking a mobile dental unit to harboursides across Cornwall and Devon to treat fishermen who rarely see a dentist due to the demands of their work. She attended every day/location, organising the clinical and volunteer team, ensuring they had whatever they needed and even nursed for the dentist. Consequently in 2019 Smiles at Sea won Best Outreach Initiative, Katie representing Smile Together at the Dental Awards ceremony, and she was honoured as one of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce 30 under 30 winners.

Katie enthusiastically embraces development opportunities, succeeding in Oral Health Education, Fluoride Application, Radiography and currently working towards her Special Care Nursing qualification. Caring for a large number of patients including children, many in severe pain, non-communicative or experiencing challenging circumstances, her work includes sedations, general anaesthetic assessments, routine treatments and providing oral health advice to parents of patients aged just a few months old right through to the elderly. Katie’s mantra is: “To treat patients with respect and dignity, ensuring they don’t feel rushed regardless how busy we are. Every appointment matters and my aim is to make their next visit an easier one. I’m there to help the dentist – we’re a team.”

Tracy Wilson, Head of Marketing and Communications is delighted at Katie’s win: “I absolutely love working with Katie – she is a wonderfully bubbly, enthusiastic, reliable and generous colleague. In my role I am endlessly asking for above and beyond contributions to support the brand and reputation of Smile Together and Katie is always so willing to help, even when this brings her way out of her comfort zone and she is so busy delivering in her dental nurse role. From responding positively to a recent BBC approach to film herself during the working day not knowing how the producer would treat the footage supplied and being interviewed by me for virtual updates as part of our internal communications strategy through to sending me daily photographs from the harboursides during Smiles at Sea with the fishermen we’re there to support, I always know I can count on Katie.”

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