Sami Stagnell is a specialist oral surgeon with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital and health care industry. Here he talks to Sue Karren to explain more about his role and the importance of having the right surgical equipment and industry support to ensure the best clinical outcomes for every patient.
What led you to become a specialist oral surgeon working in primary care?
Oral surgery was always my passion even before I qualified as a dentist so it was a natural channel for me to go down. I started out pursuing a MSc in restorative dentistry because if I was to work in general practice, I wanted to do that to the best of my ability, and this would complement my work in the best way possible. This in turn led me towards implant dentistry because it’s not just a surgical procedure but also a restorative one and this gave me a better overall understanding of oral surgery going forward.
I believe this experience results in a better overall patient experience. If you have a real understanding about what’s feasible and the treatment that can and should be done, you can have more honest conversations with patients and manage their expectations which ultimately leads to better clinical outcomes.
You were one of the first clinicians to be made a Fellow in Clinical Leadership & Management with Health Education England. What has the meant to you?
Medicine was very quick to adapt to the concept of leadership by recognising it’s a set of behaviours – a mindset. The Fellowship gives opportunities for clinicians, especially those in training, to gain practical experience rather than more traditional ways of climbing the ladder to become a leader.
The idea is to create good habits in people from an early age and lead within their teams. This is important to give clinicians more responsibility in how services are designed and implemented. It’s also about how you run a practice, manage your team and how you interact with patients, making the process as easy and entertaining as possible.
I was in the programme for 18 months and completed a postgraduate certificate in healthcare leadership and commissioning at Brighton University at the same time. This gave me a lot of academic, theoretical and real-world experience in a modern management system.
You are a trustee of the dental charity Den-Tech. What does this involve?
Den-Tech was set up to fill a gap in the market to offer dental lab services alongside the important clinical work that dental charities were already doing. Its aim is to provide affordable dentures and simple prosthetics to patients in need in this country as well as providing training, mentoring and education for dental technicians in developing countries.
I was asked by co-founder Andrea Johnson if I could help on the clinical side of Den-Tech’s work to support technicians from this perspective. I was then asked to become a trustee which for me is a terrific honour.
Dental manufacturers, and NSK in particular, have been very supportive of Den-Tech and have donated essential equipment to the cause. By having high-quality, reliable equipment it dramatically improves the work that we can do.
What key pieces of surgical equipment do you use in daily practice?
A piezo ultrasonic surgery unit is something I initially came across by accident and I was lucky enough to have a chance to experience its advantages first-hand. On a daily basis this piece of kit makes my work more predictable, becoming part of my routine kit for surgical procedures such as sinus lifts.
I also routinely use the NSK Surgic Pro surgical implant unit and together with piezo, these pieces of equipment allow me to treat patients in a predictable and safer way. Patients are more comfortable, the units are reliable and simple to use, which in turn gives me confidence in patient outcomes.
The reason I use NSK is for dependability; the equipment is so easy to manage and maintain on a daily basis. We use a variety of NSK surgical straight handpieces across our NHS contracts and they rarely cause us any issues. This is hugely important when you’re treating up to 15 patients a day five days a week in surgery.
We also get great customer support from NSK. They are such approachable people and I’ve been working with them for a long time now. They are always ready to help, interested in what you have to say and nothing is too much trouble. They are faultless in that way.
How has the pandemic impacted on your work life and what may the future look like?
The key thing to remember is this is not an individual thing – everyone is in this together. I think as a profession we’re in a very fortunate position as healthcare is a necessity while so many people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. The workload is growing, referrals have gone up in every direction but we have stability in terms of client base and need.
The pandemic has polarised things for a lot of people. Since the first lockdown people have taken decisions about what they think is important and made decisions about their health. Oral surgery has not necessarily been deemed as an aerosol generating procedure so we’ve been able to resume treatment relatively easily. I’m just grateful that we’ve been able to continue to work with all the right COVID-secure procedures in place.
Change is inevitable and necessary, but as long as those in charge recognise and are sympathetic to the real struggles going on out there, we will eventually get through this and come out stronger on the other side.
Specialist Oral Surgeon BDS MFDS (RCSEs) MSc MFGDP(UK) AKC MOralSurg RCSEng/Ed) AFFMLM
Having graduated from Kings College London Dental Institute in 2009 Sami worked across primary care and Maxillofacial Surgery House jobs in the South of England before taking on specialty training in Oral Surgery. As a specialist he currently manages and provides NHS Oral Surgery across the Wessex region and is one of the few UK graduates to have held an ITI scholarship where he spent a year in Graz Austria with the Oral Surgery and Implant team expanding his Implantology skillset.
He holds Memberships with the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and England as well as the Faculty of General Dentistry. Sami has completed an MSc in Aesthetic Dentistry and was awarded one of the first recognized UK Fellowships in Clinical Leadership with Health Education England. Furthermore, he is an active member of many societies and represents the profession with the British Dental Association and at the Royal Society of Medicine as well as acting as a Key Opinion Leader to several companies within the industry.