Unexpected Change: How Challenges Can Mean Career Enhancement for Dental Office Managers
In the early years of my career, I was only permitted to schedule overdue hygiene and regular six-month re-care appointments.
Gradually, I transitioned into check out, insurance, collections and about any other task that you can think of.
After several years of day in and day out, I really started to evaluate things.
I adored my patients, but mentally I had lost my drive to be happy.
“What do I do if I am not happy going to work anymore?”
One morning I remember calling my mom and asking her:
“What do I do if I am not happy going to work anymore?”
She told me that I needed to re-evaluate everything.
It made me realize I had some very important decisions to make.
I had no plans or ideas. I just knew something needed to change.
After thinking long and hard, I found myself at church praying about the situation weighing on my heart.
It was there, I knew God would lead me to where I needed to be.
My only question was:
How would I know?
An unexpected change
The following week, our husband/wife doctor team called for a mandatory staff meeting.
So many different things were swimming through my head.
At the meeting, they told us point blank that they had sold the practice and our new owner would be arriving within a matter of minutes.
I immediately broke into tears and was petrified of what this meant to our team.
I started to fear the worst.
In the middle of my bawling my eyes out, this young, professional gentleman came walking into a storm of frantic employees with a box of sub sandwiches.
He graciously introduced himself and told us how glad he was to meet each one of us.
It was at that point, he assured us that no one would be out of a job and that each of us was needed to help make the practice profitable, so that it would begin to grow again.
Our new doctor spoke to us so transparently about his vision.
You could tell that he was just as nervous as we were.
Still overwhelmed with shock and sobbing at my desk, Dr. Williams pulled up a chair beside me and said:
“Leslie, I know this is hard for you and the doctors have spoken very highly of you, but I need you by my side to help with this practice. You know the ins and outs of this practice and how to make it more profitable”.
That moment made all of the difference.
A new beginning
Although incredibly excited, I was also nervous.
In years past, I was limited in what all I could do in my position. There was little room for career enhancement as a dental office manager.
I had never been trained or taught anything outside of my current responsibilities.
I told him honestly this would be a learning venture for both of us but that I wouldn’t let him down.
After a few weeks of getting to know Dr. Williams and his vision, I wanted to discuss the duties I would be responsible for and attempt to draw up a plan together.
That’s when he talked to me about becoming the Practice Manager.
I was beyond ecstatic and honored!
I worked so hard at everything I did, taking on so many duties already, but I never had a title before.
I knew at that point in time I needed to prepare myself for the future and how to run a business.
So, I made the decision to enroll in business school and worked diligently towards my B.S. in Business Management.
Finding my AADOM tribe
Then one day, Dr. Williams called me into his office and asked if I had ever heard of AADOM.
He then encouraged me to attend a local chapter meeting.
It was an unbelievable experience.
I never knew there was so much opportunity for career enhancement as a dental office manager.
In 2017 in Phoenix, I was part of the graduating class.
What an unforgettable accomplishment in my eyes – the drive to pursue an education and bring more to the table as a true asset.
In 2019, I was honored as a nominee for the Practice Administrator of the Year.
My dental consultant coach told me:
“Leslie if you have a true passion for something, you have to aim for it”.
This is what I look forward to everyday: the thrill of learning something new and being able to utilize the skills that I have learned through this organization.
Onward and upward
With new ownership came new investments.
A cone beam machine. Electric charts. New services we hadn’t offered before.
Eventually, we had to expand onto our building and add an associate dentist and two hygienists.
Gradually, our staff grew to 21 people and our revenue by a few million dollars!
Whenever I had questions, my fellow AADOM members were just a phone call or email away.
Even the AADOM speakers were willing to invest and support me throughout my career.
The past four years have been the most life-changing in my 20-year dental career.
The unexpected change has brought out potential and responsibility I never knew I had.
This year, I’m honored to take on the responsibility of Chapter President at AADOM Wilmington as I work towards my MAADOM.
There is so much to be thankful for.
That one day I was at the altar asking God for a sign brought me from an unhappy part of my life into the manager I am today.
All it took was an unexpected change.
Seeking career enhancement as a dental office manager?
Don’t be afraid of change and challenge.
Set a goal and aim for it.
And definitely get involved in AADOM!
Meet the Author
Originally from Kentucky, Leslie is the chapter president of AADOM Wilmington, NC… This text opens a new tab to the Wilmington, NC chapter website…, and holds a bachelor’s degree in business management (Liberty University).
She loves the long-term patients in her practice who have become like family.
Leslie and her husband Joe are proud parents to Peyton Grace and five fur babies. In her free time, Leslie is a long-distance runner and has checked off two full marathons and 20 half marathons.
Her favorite bible verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”