Getting to Know You: Dawn Stott, CEO, Association for Perioperative Practice

Dawn Stott

We got to speak to Dawn Stott to find out what the inspiration is behind the association and why they are dedicated to making a difference.

What do you currently do?

My role is chief executive officer at the Association for Perioperative Practice, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. We are a membership organisation and registered charity working to enhance skills and knowledge within operating departments, sterile services departments and associated areas.

We currently have 7,000 members throughout the UK and overseas, made up of nurses, operating department practitioners (ODPs), Healthcare Assistants and advanced practitioners.

Our aim is to enhance the quality of care and patient safety within the NHS and independent sectors throughout the UK, determining standards and promoting best practice across all disciplines.

We do this by encouraging the exchange of professional information between our members and professional bodies such as the Department of Health, the Perioperative Care Collaborative, the Medical Royal Colleges, Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) of all four member countries, Skills for Health and many of the British Safety Institution Committees.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

The Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) was originally established as the National Association of Theatre Nurses, NATN, in 1964 but changed its name and structures in 2005 to accommodate the growing numbers of ODPs, and the significant changes that were happening in the wider perioperative environment.

Founder, Daisy Ayris MBE, was a passionate ambassador for excellence in patient care and a forward-thinking theatre nurse. Her vision was to establish a network of professionals that would share best practice and set standards for patients in the perioperative environment, thus supporting patient safety.

Her aims and ethos determined the future of our organisation and we continue to be inspired by the difference she made in those early years, every day.

What defines your way of doing business?

Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do as a charity.

To be able to lead perioperative excellence, we must demonstrate strong leadership skills and take care of our members and associate organisations.

Most importantly, we must convey trust. Our members rely on us for support and guidance and it is our duty to stay up to date with research and changes in practice that may affect patient care.

What do you admire?

The most admirable people are those who work hard and are dedicated to making a difference.

At AfPP HQ, we have a fantastic group of individuals who hold the strong skillsets that make teamwork effective. We also have a network of volunteers who work hard to support educational events and provide advice and guidance through our specialist interest groups.  Our board of trustees are also volunteers, and they work hard as perioperative ambassadors raising awareness of our unique organisation.

A ‘never give up’ attitude is also something I admire.  At AfPP we have experienced difficult times but through hard work and dedication we have reaffirmed ourselves as the voice for perioperative practice.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I’m a strong believer that everything you learn and experience whilst building a career is valuable, so I’m not sure I would have particularly done anything too differently.

I try not to look back as the past cannot be changed, however, learning from mistakes is important and if I am perfectly honest, I wish I had worked harder at school in order to reach my goals more quickly and effectively.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

The biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone is, don’t worry too much about where you want to be. Sometimes, despite careful consideration, you don’t know the path you want to take and that’s okay.

I was adamant that I was going to be a nurse, but early in my training I realised that it wasn’t for me. My wise old dad once said to me “learn to type love and you will always have a job”. His advice was correct and as a result, my career took a different pathway.

Over the years, I have gravitated back to healthcare and realised that it is obviously where I was meant to be.

One thing I would say is, take every opportunity that is given to you if you are serious about progressing. Usually the people who achieve great things later in life, are the ones who never declined opportunities to better themselves.

Build a great support network around you, make some mistakes and listen to older and wiser colleagues who can provide experience and knowledge and sometimes make a huge difference to the decisions you make.