How 202 Job Rejections and COVID Led Me to AADOM

Tamara Whitley, FAADOM. Text: Real-world insights from AADOM authors.

As the saying goes:

You can’t know what you don’t know until you know that you don’t know it!”

I was overqualified, underqualified

Five years ago, my corporate America job of twenty-seven years was moved from Dallas, Texas, to El Paso, Texas.

This is not meant to sound braggadocious, but while working for Cigna, CVS, ADP, and Medco Health Solutions, I was blessed to choose my next career move. I was not worried in the slightest when my job moved to another city because history had proven that my next job would be just around the corner.

While working full-time in corporate America, I managed our S-corporation financials while Bill was an associate dentist.

While we waited for my next “YOU’RE HIRED” message, my dentist husband asked me to come into his practice temporarily. Bill wanted me to figure out why we were not as profitable as an associate dentist.

I knew that the corporate revenue had declined drastically since we began owning our practice, and I knew that I needed to find out the reason quickly. I was known in corporate America as a “Git-R-Done” kind of gal.

I was a certified Black Belt in Six Sigma Process Improvement Methodology.

I had an extensive network across Fortune 500 companies.

My organization consisted of 221 individuals located all over the United States and the Philippines. I would have no issue getting a job, or so I thought.

While trying to discover the revenue issues in the dental office, I had to juggle several interviews for my new position.

Several interviews turned into many discussions. And many interviews turned into a ton of interviews. I remember joking in several interviews that, “There is only so much Six Sigma you can do in a dental office.

When the job rejections began to roll in, I was shocked and quickly humbled. I was overqualified, underqualified, and an external candidate. I heard every reason in the world why I would not be hired.

The more rejections I received, the more resumes I would send out or post.

I began to question everything

I angrily asked God, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING???” I secretly began to wonder if God wanted me in the dental practice full-time. Oh, how wrong I was! I believed that running a dental office would be easy.

The thought of running the day-to-day operations of a dental office now terrified me because I knew it was just me, myself, and I; no longer did I have a huge organization to support me.

When I wasn’t interviewing for my next job opportunity, I discovered many issues in the dental office that needed resolution.

One such case was that we had 504 over 500 days old claims. Let’s let that sink in for a moment 504 CLAIMS OVER 500 DAYS OLD! These claims would take 10 ½ MONTHS to clean up, follow-up, and record.

Every issue I tackled would reveal additional topics. I was shocked to learn that a ton of Six Sigma could be implemented in a dental office, so I stopped making that joke.

It took 202 job rejections, YES, you read correctly, 202 disclaimers for Bill to finally verbalize what I had been feeling for months.

I think God has a sense of humor. He is trying to tell us that you belong in this dental office full time. That is the reason for all these job rejections.”

I ordered some dental office business cards and deactivated my LinkedIn resume.

It was time for me to be a full-time dental practice administrator for Whitley Family Dental.

Once we settled into our dental office routine – which NEVER includes discussing work at home – a new issue began in January 2020.

Our dental supply field rep told us that something was going on with the mask supply chain coming from China.

Masks were now being rationed – three boxes of masks ordered every three weeks. We all know what came next, the virus!!

New acronyms began to surface like PPP, EIDL, HHS, PRF. The issue at hand?

I was on my own, trying to figure it all out. I quickly realized that if our practice were going to survive COVID, I would have to get as much help as possible. That quest for help began with taking as many webinars as I could find.

One such webinar had a person named Heather Colicchio talking about an organization created for the sole purpose of supporting dental office management.

I knew there was a dentist organization called the American Dental Association.

I knew a hygienist organization called the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. I didn’t realize that there was an organization created for ME – the American Association of Dental Office Management!

At this moment, the heavens parted, and the angels began to sing!!!!

AADOM is my oasis

I was no longer alone wandering in the desert.

When I landed on the AADOM website that Heather referenced, I went ALL IN with a lifetime membership.

On subsequent webinars, I learned from Heather that this organization named AADOM not only has an annual conference full of topics for dental office management, but they also celebrated practice administrators’ success via three different levels of distinction – Fellowship, Mastership, & Diplomate.

I immediately booked our reservation for the conference, for our flights to Orlando, and I dove in head-first on the Fellowship requirements by enrolling in Fall Semester 2020.

I was bound and determined to be inducted as a FAADOM at the 2021 AADOM Conference. I am proud to say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED as I now have the initials of FAADOM behind my name!

Looking back, God had the perfect plan. I like to think that Bill and I are smart people, but it took numerous job rejections for us to realize that I belonged in our dental office; it took a global pandemic and all that came with it for God to send AADOM to rescue us.

AADOM is everything

Thanks to AADOM, that which was unknown is now known to me.

I know Teresa Duncan is the QUEEN of all things insurance, a proponent of APPEAL EVERYTHING, and will always leave the ladder down.

I know Cheryl McKenna is the “Merchant Services Whisperer” who makes sense of merchant services hieroglyphics statements and saves us thousands in merchant services fees each month.

I know my practice financials down to the cost per hour to run the practice because Rick Garofolo taught me that I couldn’t achieve our practice financial goals if I didn’t know our starting point.

I know how to maximize legal reimbursement, minimize risk, reduce stress, and stay out of prison because Dr. Roy Shelburne has taught me that ignorance is not a legal excuse.

He wants to be the last dentist sent to prison for ignorance of the insurance revenue cycle management.

I know Paul Edwards ensures that our CEDR Employee Handbook is 100% in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and makes sense of employer “Mandate Madness” for our practice.

I could probably write an entire article on all the AADOM resources because the list of AADOM resources is never-ending.

I no longer worry about what I don’t know because if I don’t know, I know where to go and how to be “in the know” at AADOM.

I could go on and on about the significance of AADOM. Still, there is a word limit to these articles, so allow me to summarize with the words I sent on the conference survey when asked about my overall feelings regarding AADOM:

“Everyone has heard the old adage of “knowledge is power”, but the best part of AADOM takes this old adage and makes a new adage of “knowledge is power, but only when shared”.

The camaraderie and helpfulness of AADOM members who have “been there; done that!” who are willing to share their knowledge is INCREDIBLE!

Knowing I have people in my corner to support me knowing that these people will share their invaluable knowledge with me so I can succeed and knowing I am not alone IS EVERYTHING quite simply, AADOM is EVERYTHING!”

Meet the Author

Tamara Whitley, FAADOM headshotTamara Whitley, FAADOM, is a co-owner and dental practice administrator at Whitley Family Dental …This opens in a new window to Whitley Family Dental website… . She brings over 30 years of proven business and insurance administration experience to her role from notable companies such as Cigna, CVS, ADP, and Medco Health Solutions.

Tamara found AADOM in October 2020 when she went “all in” with a lifetime membership. She was inducted as an AADOM Fellow (FAADOM) in 2021 and is a member of her local AADOM at the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter.

She holds her Black Belt in Six Signa Process Methodology as well.
Tamara has been married to Dr. Bill for 31 years. Together, with their son, they enjoy traveling, reading, and cooking.


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