Charan Sarai - Practice Manager Adviser

Interview with Carey Dowson: My first two years as a practice manager

Last week FPM Practice Management Advisor, Charan Sarai, met with Carey Dowson who became a practice manager for Bingley Medical Practice in May 2013. Carey moved into practice management after years of project management in the construction sector and latterly in submarine build. Despite only working in healthcare for the past two years, Charan describes Carey as having a real passion for primary care.

So what is it like to switch from submarines to general practice management? We asked Carey a few questions to find out what it’s like to be a first-time practice manager...


You only went into practice management in 2013, what were you doing before and what made you decide to move into primary healthcare?

I was a Build Methods Manager, responsible for teams of engineers involved with the processes and procedures for the construction of submarines. One day I saw the job on the First Practice Management website and just went for it. I wanted something that would allow me to manage and innovate, but I didn’t think I had a chance - particularly as there was a room full of females and I was the token male.

What have you found to be the biggest challenges of this job?

The diversity of the job role and the knowledge base needed.  Anything from medical queries to prescription queries, referrals and needing to know how things are processed in the NHS. I have also been involved in re-structuring, but I am happy to see progress being made.

What are the best parts of the job?

The teamwork involved is a great part of the job.  I make recommendations, make sure decisions are made and that they’re carried forward.

Would you recommend the career move to others working in different sectors who are considering becoming a practice manager?

Yes, definitely.  It’s a real chance to make a difference in the evolving NHS.  We have a real ability to make a difference to people’s lives, but you have to care about people to do this job. I believe we have a team that cares and that makes the job easier.  

Did you find the recruitment process any different to applying for a non-healthcare position?

No – in my opinion it is up there with Blue Chip Companies. There was a fantastic process in place and the session was set up as an assessment centre, which was great. It was all very positive and what I had been used to in the corporate world.

Is there anything else any budding practice managers should do to prepare themselves for the recruitment process - or before starting the post?

Yes - do your homework, ask questions and visit the practice.  Get a feel for the culture and ethos of the place, and if it’s not for you then don’t apply - go with your first instinct.

If you could give one piece of advice to a brand new PM, what would it be?

Get a Mentor. I have four, including a PM mentor and a finance mentor.

For new practice managers looking for information or support within this role, First Practice Management’s Introduction to Practice Management Course covers all the key areas that need to be addressed when managing a busy and successful practice.

First Practice Management also has a mentor scheme available for members.


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