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by Angela Sharda
16 August 2018

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The PM edit: Kay Keane in her own words

Management in Practice is speaking to a series of  PMs on the front-line about what being a practice manager means to them.
Deputy editor, Angela Sharda talks to Kay Keane about the challenges practice management poses and the future of the profession.
Q. How has being a practice manager changed since you first started out in the profession?
I’m relatively new to practice management – I have only been working in this role for three years. I think practice management is about a team approach, it’s about getting the right team with the right skills.  I think no two practices are the same, but in order for me to do my job it is crucial that I have a brilliant senior receptionist and an equally brilliant finance administrator; which I do. This allows me to look at developmental work and new challenges and keep all the plates spinning. 
Q. When did you start as a practice manager and how did you get into the role?
I had been made redundant from my previous job and wanted a position that would help my work-life balance, I wanted to be able to walk to work and not have as many overnight stays. I had already been working in the NHS for my whole career so I knew what I was letting myself in for, but I think I completely underestimated the sheer volume of work that we face.
Q. What are the biggest challenges of being a practice manager today?
Having to say ‘no’ and delegating are the biggest challenges. There is not enough time to do everything well – so delegating is a must. Sometimes we are asked to do things that the practice isn’t contracted, or paid to do. But but it is a constant issue, finding the time to do things.                                               
Q. What do practice managers need most in terms of support and resources?
I’d like to see more help to raise the profile of medical receptionists, they are the front line staff and deal with so much. I’d like us to be funded to be able to give them agenda for change.
Q.  What do you find most rewarding about being a practice manager?
Patients – even the ones that complain, because that helps me to work out what we need to improve next.  There is nothing nicer to me than walking into the waiting room and knowing that I can have an informal chat with the people there and find out how they view our services.
Q.  How do you see the future of practice management?
I think we will have more specialised managers in networks, so one that leads on finance for example. This is something that would mean we could share skills and move away from being the ‘jack of all trades.’
Q. What do you think you would be doing today if you were not a practice manager?
I’d still be in the NHS, but probably in a project management role, which is where I came from.  However, I would really prefer to be in my allotment full time.
Q. The practice manager role is forever evolving. If you could choose your dream team, what would it look like?
I have that already. I just need to find the right GP or ANP to join us.  We now have wellbeing navigators, physiotherapists and an advanced practice nurse. I love my job and the team around me.
Kay Keane is a business manager at the Alvanley Family Practice.