How AADOM Helped Me Transition from RDA to Office Manager

Edineth Bonilla, CDA, RDA, FAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

In 2014, I began my career in dentistry by graduating from a dental assisting program and becoming a certified dental assistant.

Little did I know that was only the beginning of my wonderful journey.

I’ve always had a huge passion for dentistry, which is what encouraged me to become a dental assistant.

I began working as a CDA at Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry in 2015. Two years later, I became an RDA and began providing dental sealants.

In 2019, after a few years of being the head dental assistant for the practice, I was offered a position as office manager.

Wow, was I excited! However, I had little insight into what being a dental office manager would consist of.

How to become a successful dental office manager

I grew a great bond with the previous office manager, who introduced me to AADOM.

I was so excited to discover this amazing organization. I found what I felt I was missing. Becoming an AADOM member unlocked the potential I did not know I had!

As I began my new career journey, I took the time to complete the DALE Foundation office manager courses, which were AMAZING!! The AR, HR, and financial reporting courses truly provided me so much knowledge related to my new duties as an office manager.

Being a dental assistant first helped prepare me for my role as office manager. My clinical background has been immensely helpful in my day-to-day, including training and leading our team as well as educating our patients.

My favorite part of being a dental assistant was the patient interaction and being a key role in their experience.

Dental office transition from back to front

When I transitioned into the role of office manager, I feared that I would be “hiding behind a desk” for most of the day. I thought this new role would limit my patient interaction and began to look for ways to have the best of both roles.

I developed opportunities where I could still be a key part of the patient experience:

  • Reviewing the schedule in advance and picking a patient coming in for x-rays that day, and making myself available during that time to take that x-ray. As a result, I had an opportunity to not only bond with the patient as well as keep my skills as a dental assistant sharp.
  • I made it a goal to introduce myself to at least 1-2 parents daily and chat with them about their experience with us. This gave me lots of insight as to how the patients viewed our office and rated our customer service.
  • Setting aside at least 30 minutes a day to interact with the patients. Ex: asking them what flavor paste they chose for their cleaning, providing them their goody bag, prize, and having them pick a sticker.

As practice managers, it’s not always easy to step away from the computer throughout our busy day. However, I realized it’s vital to still be involved in the patient experience and clinical process as much as we can.

I believe that doing so will spark new ideas and allows us to see the patient through a different lens.

I also encourage all managers and dental teams to visit AADOM and become a member!

How AADOM helps new dental managers

There are so many educational offerings, from webinars to educational modules and podcasts, etc., to provide much-needed knowledge for us as team leaders.

One of my personal favorite courses in the AADOM library is the educational module “Dental Assistant to Practice Administrator.” This five-module curriculum was awesome in providing lots of information to anyone in the dental field looking to transition from the back to the front.

If you’re currently a dental assistant and want to make that career change, I highly recommend you GO FOR IT and to become an AADOM member to help guide you in this transition.

Being an AADOM member has inspired me to grow, and my membership has guided me in my journey from dental assistant to practice manager.

Meet the Author

Edineth BonillaEdineth Bonilla’s career in dentistry began six years ago as an RDA and evolved from there. Today, she is the practice manager at Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry… This text opens a new tab to the practice’s website….

She has been an AADOM member since 2018 and was inducted as a Fellow in 2020.

She loves all things dentistry, but when she isn’t at work, she likes to work on puzzles, play board games, cook, and spend time with her fiancé.


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