For the past three months, I have been to conference after conference. I have had the opportunity to reconnect with many old friends and have had the pleasure of making many new ones. It’s no surprise that these years have been extremely tough for the small business owner, but some of the stories I have heard have left me dumbfounded but grateful. Like everyone else, I feel the emotional and physical wear of owning my dental practice—the constant that is having to “turn it on” for your team, your patients, and even your family. It is exhausting—so exhausting that it can make you mentally quit and dive into a gigantic pity party that ultimately could pull down everyone with you.
So take a moment. Remember back to why you chose dentistry. Close your eyes and remember that dental school acceptance letter. When you read it, how did you feel? What immediate dreams did you start to create for your future career? They say, “If you can turn passion into a career, you’ll never have to work another day in your life,” and that has been the case for me. Becoming a dentist was never a dream I had growing up as a child. Let’s face it: Not many people see the allure of working in dark, wet, oral environments every day. It was the influence of my older brother and the memories of taking my grandmother with cancer to her many doctor appointments that steered me down that path. My brother is an orthodontist, and while he was in dental school, I was in college deciding which of my two majors I would truly pursue in life—one was in science, and the other in the arts. With his advice, I started to shadow dentists in town to gain some exposure to the world of dentistry. I remember going into one specific office where the dentist and his team treated their patients with such integrity and gentility, it reminded me of how much that can impact a person who is scared or feels vulnerable because he or she is a patient. It was when I was going through dental school that I realized that I had truly found a profession that would allow me to marry art and science together, and that I would be able utilize my knowledge and skill sets to help people improve their lives on a daily basis and in so many ways.
Now, could I do this without the help and support of a team that didn’t share this same passion? I think we can unanimously say, “No!” I know that so much of my success and enjoyment comes from the fact I have a team that supports me completely. Each woman on my team is a completely different person who brings a different perspective to the group, but each shares the same mission to treat each patient uniquely, with empathy and gentility. They are people with their own lives outside our office who chose to dedicate themselves to our patients and our practice. They continuously train to remain at the top of their field of practice and come to work with patience and enthusiasm. I feel privileged to be surrounded by team members as devoted to their craft and as passionate about helping others as I am.
Honestly, not every moment in our practice is fun or great—that’s life. Having a clear mission, and a team that completely believes in this mission, constantly gives us good perspective and keeps the overall attitude in our office clean and uplifting. We may get tired, but we don’t burn out because we are always there for each other and deeply want to help people and be successful. If you don’t have a mission that is clear to you and your team, or maybe there are people in your office who are just not onboard with that mission, things need to change.
Originally published in The Daily Grind.