The word legacy alone triggers thoughts of strength. When you hear it, it creates a feeling of having been given something quite special by someone else.
Merriam-Webster defines legacy as a “gift by will, especially of money or other personal property, a thing handed down by a predecessor.”
What exactly is our legacy as dental office managers?
Is it practice growth? Are we defined simply by the success of our office’s finances? What do we want to be known for?
How do you leave a legacy?
Legacy doesn’t necessarily have to be delayed until our retirement years or what people remember after we’ve left this world.
Our legacy can simply be what’s left behind when we leave one job to take another, our move from the front desk to our very own office manager, or be reflected when we exit a practice to go back to school or choose to stay home to care for our family.
The legacy of a dental office manager
A casual weekend chat about this topic ended up turning into a Facebook post and question, “What do you feel will be your legacy in dentistry or in your practice?”
Anytime I need an answer to anything dental related, social media allows me to communicate with dental professionals all over the country, and sometimes the world, for opinions, comments, and support.
The force behind social media to have dental management answers at your fingertips today is incredible, and though there can be woes, it is a really valuable connection to the people around us.
When it comes to leaving a legacy, some of the input I received from both mature and brand-new dental managers included:
- “I don’t […] want my legacy to be […] the same now as it was when I started almost 30 years ago, I wanted it to be success and growth of the office, but now I think I just want it to be that I was kind.”
- “I was honest when I needed to be and told employees and patients things they needed to hear, so probably honesty will be my legacy for my office when I retire, but I will probably never retire.”
- “I have been ethical, that is my legacy. I was committed too.”
- “I think I would just want people to say that I helped them.”
- “Practice success. If the practice is successful in the eyes of the doctor, that would be a good legacy to leave behind.”
- “Being organized. If I leave the office or if something happens to me, I want my legacy to be that I was organized and helped someone else do my job easier.”
- “Every day, I try to bring something valuable to my office. Sometimes it might be little, like holding a patient’s hand. It might be big, like paying the bill of an employee when they are having a tough time. I want to be known for being valuable and for giving value to someone’s life.”
- “I had integrity.”
Leaving a legacy at work
The comments shared one common theme, and that is that they repeatedly mirrored the same words as our core values. Words like ethical, kind, valuable, and honest were the most abundant words sprinkled throughout the input of other managers.
It quickly became apparent that dental office managers obviously care a great deal about what they leave behind, even if they’ve never thought about it as being a legacy. They care about the impact they have on their teams, their practice culture, their patients, and their communities.
As managers and leaders, we leave a part of ourselves wherever we’ve been. Our mark is made on so many things in our dental offices, from the doctor to the systems and the employees to the patients.
Our legacy is that we show up, and we make it right no matter the challenge. We are the core, the glue, and the culture creators that hold great practices together.
Meet the Author
Beverly Wilburn, FAADOM is the office manager for Karl A. Smith, DDS, LLC Periodontics and Implants… This text opens a new tab to the official website… in Alexandria, VA and Waldorf, MD
In addition to managing a specialty practice full-time, she offers consulting services for dentists, dental specialists, and several attorneys.
She is currently a member of three AADOM chapters in the Washington DC Metro area and serves as the executive administrator for the Virginia Society of Periodontists.