Making the dream a reality

Striking out on your own can be a daunting decision. Joanne McGarrity took the bold step and is now thriving in her own practice

Last year Joanne McGarrity was faced with a big decision – whether to remain as an associate or realise her long-held dream of opening her own dental practice.

And, with the help and support of her husband, family and friends, McGarrity Dental Practice finally opened its doors in Cavan on 18 December 2015.

Joanne freely admits that it was a long time before she felt ready to open her own practice and she describes the decision to strike out on her own as “the hardest step to take”. But, now that she is up and running, she couldn’t be happier with her new venture.

After qualifying from Trinity College Dublin in 2003 with an honours degree in Dental Science, Joanne stayed on for a year as a junior house officer before starting as an associate with Dr Denis Coughlan at his practice in Kells.

“Denis has remained a mentor for me in restorative dentistry and he supported me tremendously in gaining more experience and qualifications. As a result, I completed my membership exams for the Royal College of Surgeons and my interest in cosmetic dentistry was really cemented with a trip to Italy to complete a masterclass with Dr Vannai in Enamel HFO and to the UK to complete master classes with Nasser Barghi.”

Joanne then moved to work for the HSE primary care services in Cavan where she worked under the guidance of Dr Evelyn Connolly. She said: “I learned a lot about paediatric dentistry from Dr Connolly and I found that I really enjoyed treating children.”

After that she started working part-time in Farnham Dental Practice in Cavan and also returned to Denis’s practice in Kells where she worked with periodontist Dr Lochlann Walsh, gaining hands-on experience restoring large cases. Joanne explained that her experiences working with Denis and his team gave her the confidence to start thinking about striking out on her own. She said: “I still have a great working relationship with Denis’s team and it was down to my experiences there that I finally felt that I had the experience necessary to be confident as a practice principal.”

In late summer last year, Joanne started looking around for premises to start her own practice and when she found Athbara House, a Georgian townhouse in Cavan, she fell in love. “The practice is located in a beautiful conservation building and the moment I saw the rooms I was delighted by the light, the beautiful period features and the pretty views from the rooms. The practice has a lovely feel to it and nowhere else I had seen could compare to it.” A firm of solicitors occupies the ground floor of the building but Joanne secured four rooms on the first floor where she now has her one-surgery practice, with room to expand and introduce a second surgery when the business gets to the next level.

Joanne explained that she looked at all the main dental suppliers to help her get her dream off the ground but it was Paul Hogan from HDMS who really made an impression on her. She travelled down to Galway and met up with Rachel King who Paul had worked with previously. Joanne was really impressed with the chair and the equipment that HDMS had provided and installed for her.

Paul and his team were involved with the new practice from day one and Paul worked closely with Joanne’s husband Paul McGarrity who took on the lead for the work while Joanne concentrated on the paperwork. Paul (Hogan) was involved with the initial site meeting and met regularly with Joanne’s husband and the builders to instruct them on the services required to be installed for the equipment the practice needed. They also provide advice on planning, fire safety and disability access requirements.

Joanne chose to go with the Ritter Ultra Performance E dental chair, a quality German-manufactured brand which comes with standard features such as LED overhead light, LED fibre optics, electric micro motor, scaler and dental stools built in all inclusive. She also took delivery of a Ritter Leadex 70 Intraoral X ray system.

Joanne said: “I really love my surgery; it is a very large airy room. The Ritter dental chair is a perfect match for the room as it is such a beautiful piece of equipment. The chair is well designed and makes work a pleasure. All the Ritter equipment is attractive, robust and easy to use.”

HDMS also supplied the Cattani C 300 D compressor and the Cattani 2V Turbo Smart suction pump with amalgam separator – the first one installed in Ireland due to the distance between the plant room and the surgery. The practice management software was sourced through Lisa at Aerona with Joanne saying: “They have a great package for new dentists starting up with an unbeatable price point.” Many of the practice’s consumables were sourced through Grainne from BF Mulholland who supply everything from disinfection wipes, X-ray films and syringe tips.

Joanne said: “I have had a wonderful experience where everybody involved was invested in making the project a success. Paul guided me through all the equipment options from the compressor and the suction to the autoclave. He has made sure that everything is ideal for my practice.

“On top of all that, HDMS finished the project on time and without fuss.” And, as well as having her husband on board with the creation of the new practice, Joanne also had another familiar face to help her when they opened the doors on 18 December last year. She said: “I am blessed that my dental nurse of nine years, Rosemarie Galligan, decided to come and work with me when I asked. It is great to work with someone you know and trust to help me make the practice a success.

“We are still very new and I hope that with hard work and a little luck that the practice will prosper into the future. My advice to an associate in a similar position to me last year would be to just go for it. You will never work harder but it is worth it!”

Making the dream a reality

To contact HDMS, call 091 582 608 or 087 870 2619, email or visit

Published: 25 February, 2016 at 15:18
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