Faces of AADOM – Terri Greene Guthrie

Journey of Choices: From Hospitality to Dental Office Management

Join us for an inspiring event as part of the Faces of AADOM series, featuring Terri Greene Guthrie’s journey into dental office management. Hear firsthand how Terri found her passion and excelled in the dental industry. 

Terri shares her personal story of discovering her “tribe” within AADOM—a community where she felt truly understood and accepted. Her journey highlights the shared challenges, rewards, and joys that come with a career in dentistry. Terri emphasizes that for those who choose this path, it’s more than just a job—it’s in their DNA. 

In this engaging conversation, Heather interviews Terri, delving into her experiences and the pivotal moments that shaped her career. Terri’s insights into the importance of self-investment and continuous learning are invaluable for anyone in the dental field. She speaks candidly about how investing in her own knowledge and education has made a significant difference in her role as an office manager. 

Terri’s story is a testament to the power of understanding systems and striving for improvement. Her dedication to her profession shines through as she shares how she identified opportunities for growth and enhanced practice operations. 

Don’t miss out on this enlightening episode, as Terri’s journey inspires dental professionals everywhere.

About Faces of AADOM

Meet AADOM members who make up the heartbeat of our community – the diverse and talented individuals who embody the spirit of excellence in dental office management. Every member has a story. “Faces of AADOM” shares members’ unique journeys, the path that led them into dentistry, and the moments that define their passion for dental leadership. 

Subscribe to Faces of AADOM to discover more stories of resilience, growth, and empowerment within the AADOM community.

Be sure to watch our video now or read the transcript below to learn more about Terri’s journey toward becoming a successful office manager!


Read the Transcript:


Heather: Hey everybody! Heather Colicchio here—founder and president of AADOM.

I’d like to welcome you today to Faces of AADOM. Faces of AADOM is a series where we focus on our members because it’s the members of AADOM that make us great.

So today I am absolutely thrilled to have with us Terry Greene Guthrie. Welcome Terry!

Terry is the Practice Administrator of Crystal Martin DDS in Kansas City, Missouri. Go Chiefs! And she is also part of our Kansas City chapter.

So, welcome, Terri.

Terri: Well, thank you. It is absolutely a privilege to be here. I’m super excited just to be a part of the AADOM and humbled to be part of the faces of AADOM this year.

Heather: Thank you for being here.

So, with this series, we’re really not specifically looking for practice management advice, although that typically ends up happening. But, really, I just want to hear about your story and your journey.

What I’ve learned is that no little boy or girl at nine or ten years old says, “When I grow up, I want to be a dental office manager.” That just doesn’t happen. So, it’s been so interesting to learn how everybody found their way.

So, Terry, for everybody listening, how did you find your way to dentistry? Have you always been in dentistry, or did you take a longer route?

Terri’s Journey Toward Dentistry

Terri: Actually, I started in administration and hospitality. My best friend from my teenage years went to dental school.

When she completed her internship, she went to work for an office in Kansas City. And she’s like, “Hey, Terri! We have an opening for a receptionist. You should come and work at my office.”

And I was like, “Do I really want to do that?’

I went ahead because it was her, my best friend, and went to work in what was a capitation plan office—now would be the equivalent of a DSO—way back 30 years ago this month. And I started as a receptionist.

One thing that I found early on was this was my jam. This was where I could shine.

I quickly examined systems, how they were functioning, and where they could be improved. My career basically started there.

Heather: That’s really interesting. Had you been working in hospitality prior to this?

Terri: Well, I was an administrative secretary for a while, and then I went into the hotel industry, worked the front desk, and was a director there.

So, hospitality is hospitality. Whether it’s the hotel industry or the dental industry, you’re still there to meet and greet and make people feel welcome. And it just kind of fit me.

Heather: You just knew, then, when you walked into general practice, “This is where I belong. This is my jam. I can do great things here.”

So, the spirit hit you and you just knew you landed in the right spot.

You started as a receptionist and what you said was a DSO equivalent. So, what was that like?

Terri: Back in the day, there wasn’t really any such thing as a DSO or a corporate office. I had the privilege to start my career with a doctor who believed in taking any insurance and every insurance. And back then, there was a thing called a capitation plan, and all of the big companies would sign up for it. And then their patients were assigned to our office, kind of the equivalent of an EPO now.

But he had vision and he would open a practice and then he’d get bored. So we’d open another practice and take on an associate and get bored and open another practice. It was just a whole different world.

I worked with him for a while and then my best friend moved to another office out of state and I moved to a small private practice that was fee for service and worked there with a different dentist. It was a different vibe. It was a different feel and I just loved the change.

One of the things that I found in working for a private practice was—again, systems, for me, are a big thing. I really love systems. But it was the generational thing that you see in a small private practice. We had four generations at one time that came into the practice.

Where else are you going to see that?

Heather: So, it sounds like this practice where you found yourself as more maybe community driven than the prior practice.

What else would you say about going from DSO equivalent to private? What were some of the biggest changes?

The Importance of Learning Multiple Roles

Terri: When I went private, I learned so much from the doctor.

One of the things that he instilled in all of his staff was that cross-training was imperative. He felt that the assistant needed to understand the front desk. They needed to know how to answer the phone. But, then again, he felt the front desk needed to know how to be an assistant and sit by your side.

I think that spending years doing both helped me to be a better scheduler. It helped me to understand the overall function and flow of a practice. It made me more sympathetic and empathetic when I was scheduling for the back.

I’ve taken what Dr. Powell taught me throughout my entire career—whether I was working with a large multi-dentist practice to a small, holistic practice—it doesn’t matter. I took so much of what I learned in that environment with me. And I still believe the same way today.

Heather: That’s really interesting. I’ve heard of clinicians working “up front,” but not the other way around. So, what was that?

Terri: I’ll never forget the first time that Dr. Powell said, “Okay, I want you to learn how to be an assistant.”

I’m sitting there going, “Okay!”

I know in dentistry now, three decades later, that a lot of times an assistant will end up working at the front desk.

But, at that time, he took me to the operatory, and he did the handoff. He said, “I want you to know how to do a handoff, how to take the instruments.”

He educated me on what the instruments were, how to hand them off, and how to read his signals. And he was so patient and he was so kind.

I actually ended up staying with that practice for 20 years.

Heather: Wow! So that was your home for much of your career.

Finding the Right Practice for You

Terri: I stayed because it was a private practice and he believed in God first, family second, and then the career.

He gave us the flexibility as his staff members to be family when we needed to be family. And you can find that in a lot of dental practices, no matter what your position is. Your office becomes your family. You have that flexibility. You have that trust in that camaraderie.

I didn’t always feel that when I was working outside of dentistry, but it’s one of the things that has just caused me to love what I do.

Heather: When you say family, are you referring to the dental team kind of as your second family because you spend so much time with them or was it that this practice allowed you to be flexible for your own family?

Terri: Both. I can’t tell you the number of times that I would get a phone call because my kids were sick at school and I needed to run home. Or I needed to bring a kid in because school closed for some reason. But you had that ability.

A lot of practices make those concessions. Not all of them do.

But, for me and where I was with this practice, it was what I needed at the time. And I think that there’s probably a practice out there for everybody.

If they get involved in dentistry and they find that niche—they find that right fit. That was the beginning for me. That was where I started.

The longer that I was there, the more policies I was able to create and develop and streamline. And that became kind of what I was known for.

Oftentimes, even back then, I would help other practices set up their policies and procedures or work on an SOP that made them more efficient or more effective. And that was back in the day before there was such a thing as AADOM. That was back in the day when dentists didn’t want their office managers talking to other offices. It was taboo. It was taboo, so we would speak around and do it on the down low.

Heather: I have so many questions. You talked about the challenges of being a working mom, which many of our members are. And it’s tough. It’s tough working and raising a family. As a woman or man, it’s a lot.

What would your advice be for managers who have team members who have families? What advice would you give as far as making it work for everyone?

Balancing Work with Family Life

Terri: From a practice administrator, office manager, team lead perspective—put yourself in their shoes.

We’re always going to have team members who have a family issue or are single parents; single parents are out there. They’re pregnant women or nursing mothers. There’s always something that we’re going to have to work around.

So, put yourself in their shoes.

Heather: I wonder how much of that comes from the fact that you were cross-trained and how to put yourself in someone else’s position, just because of physically having to do it. I wonder if there was some carryover that made it easier for you to say, “Let me put myself in their shoes for a minute.”

Terri: I think there’s a lot to be said for trying to be empathetic and not sympathetic. Trying to actually look at what is involved or what the other person is going through, whether it’s your assistant or your hygienist or your front desk person, or even your doctor.

What are they having to deal with in their own lives right now?

You don’t know.

I come from a positive perspective, no matter what I’m looking at, no matter what I’m doing. I’m always going to look at what somebody says to me and then spin it so that I see it in a positive light.

When I’m working with my team members, I do the same thing. They may be having a really bad day, but I don’t know what their life is. I don’t know what their history is.

At the last practice that I worked at prior to this, we had a lot of single moms who had kids. And when school was called out, what were they going to do with their kids? Or somebody is sick? How are they going to deal with that?

So, we did a lot of tag teaming. We had a lot of backups, which is great. When you’re short-staffed anyway, it makes it a little bit more difficult, which is why cross-training comes in really handy.

Heather: It takes a village. It really does. And that must have been cool for your kids, too, to see where mom works and see her work family. That’s great that you had that flexibility.

Now, you kind of lit up when you were talking about policies and procedures and SOPs, which most people don’t. So, is that just something that you naturally found yourself good at or something that you learned along the way?

When you talk about policies and procedures, what were some of the first ones that you saw needed to be implemented? And how did you know how to do it?

This was before AADOM and before we were supposed to talk to other managers. So, what were some of the first ones that you saw in the practice that this has to be documented? And how did you know what to do?

Taking the Lead with Office Policies

Terri: I think for me, the first thing that I did, no matter what practice that I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot.

The first thing that I always do is just sit back and look—sit back and watch. See what the office flow is, see where we are succeeding, and see where we’re struggling.

And then I would, through trial and error, sometimes try to implement things that would make the practice run more smoothly—whether it’s insurance, whether it’s training the staff—whatever it is.

I’m not a fan of the”work smarter, not harder.” But essentially that’s what we wanna do.

We wanna be able to get as much done as possible in the least amount of time so that we can be more efficient and we can be more effective. A lot of times when I was working with offices in the past, it’s streamlining their AR. Or cleaning up their AR and then finding policies that are going to make them more efficient moving forward.

I’m a numbers girl.

I am an insurance person.

I’m that sick person who thinks that it’s in my DNA.

Anytime I’ve worked with an office, the first thing we do is sit back and examine how they’re working because not everybody’s going to do things the same way.

Heather: No, every practice is different and it has their own personality.

It sounds like AR might be your superpower. And for everyone listening today, I know AR is a broad topic. But is there anything you can suggest for tips and tricks like KPIs or things that they should be looking at no matter what when they look at their AR?

Understanding Accounts Receivable

Terri: Anytime you’re looking at your AR, you want to stand back first and take a look at the big picture:

  • What do my outstanding insurance claims look like?
  • Are they crazy past 90 days?
  • If they are, how do I fix that?
  • How frequently am I submitting insurance?
  • How frequently am I looking at outstanding claims?

Once you get a good handle on that, you want to look at your outstanding AR as a total:

  • Do you have accounts that have balances that have been sitting there for the last two years?
  • How are you going to combat that?
  • How are you going to clean that up?
  • How are you going to prevent that from happening in the future?

Training your staff on how to collect appropriately at the start of the procedure, rather than having to chase the balances down later is always the way to go.

At the office that I work with now, for years and years and years, their front desk person would just say, “Oh, we’ll send you a statement.”

When I started working with the office in earnest, and I looked at their outstanding AR, they were sending hundreds of statements a month for $50 or less. It would have been so easy to collect while the patient is standing in front of you. It’s always easier to collect when that patient is right there in front of your face than it is to try and chase them down, or bill or call or all of the following up.

Heather: I agree. And yet, asking for money doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people and makes them uncomfortable. What verbiage do you recommend?

So say someone is getting ready to check out and there’s a balance and you want to collect it. How would you position that? How would you phrase that?

Terri: It really is as simple as saying, “Your patient portion for today is…” and stop talking. It’s that simple!

When you stop talking, you maintain control. The patient is either going to whip out their credit card or they’re going to make some sort of a comment to make arrangements, and then you can go from there.

But what I found when you’re training staff is they are only comfortable asking for however much from a patient that they are comfortable paying themselves. It’s getting them past that.

Heather: The funny thing is that you’re asking them for money that they know they owe. It’s not like you’re asking them for money they don’t know about, or you’re surprising them with something.

Terri: At the practice that I’m at now, in training the front desk, I was like, “Okay, this is how much the patient is going to owe. This is how much you’re going to ask for.”

And, for the first six months, the patients were like, “Well, I never had to pay before.”

And, at that time, then we were telling the patients, “We understand, but we’re changing our policies, and we’re trying to be more efficient. So, moving forward, this is how we’re going to be collecting.”

Now, it’s just status quo. This is just the way that it is.

It takes the patients a little bit. You want to train the patient to be the kind of patient that you want them to be. And, if we don’t train them, they’re not going to know.

Heather: That’s excellent advice.  I love that. And I bet your AR just shoots up instantly just collecting at the desk. That’s fantastic.

So, if you could tell us a little bit about the practice you’re in now, what’s your role there now? How big is the practice?

Terri’s Current Role

Terri: The practice that I’m at now when I started working with them, was doing about 600 a year, and it was one practice. She had two part-time hygienists, and she’s still a one-dentist practice.

She has one full-time and two part-time hygienists. Now she has gone from 800 or from 600, 000 a year to 810 last year in production. Her outstanding AR is phenomenal. Her outstanding insurance is, I think when I did an audit on it, we had two claims that were over 30 days. So we’re all of that streamlined and now the goal is to help that doctor make her vision a reality.

So now that we’ve, we’ve streamlined the AR, we know where the money is coming from, we know how to collect it. Now, how do we move forward? What is her vision? And how, as a practice administrator or office manager or administrative team member, how am I going to help that vision become a reality? What does that look like?

And so for her, she’s, she’s partnering with a consulting company. That is going to do phenomenal things for her. The team is, we’re all going to a conference next month. We’re super excited about, and then it’s just training all over again.

Heather: Well, congratulations on that jump. That’s quite a jump. 600 to 810.

Quite a jump. Congratulations on your AR. That is phenomenal. So question how you talk about the doctor’s vision. How has the doctor communicated her vision to the team? What does that look like?

Terri: So my doctor is, she’s a micromanager. No, say it isn’t so. No doctor out there is a micromanager. Oh, my goodness.

And she’ll admit it. She’ll openly admit it. And she’s been very conservative. On her treatment planning, her diagnosing. But she also knows that where she wants to be in 10 years is to have a marketable practice that she is, is going to be positive that she can have an associate come in that may buy her out at some point.

And for her to have a marketable practice, she’s going to have to implement change now, so that we can achieve that goal. And, you know, working on building her foundation over the last two years has been the start of that. And now she’s at a point now where she can work with a consulting firm.

That’s going to take her to that next level.

Heather: So when she, and this is really for everybody listening, when the doctor kind of. Had her vision solidified. How did, how did she call a team meeting? Did she share it with you and ask you to share it with the team? What was that like?

Terri: So, she doesn’t, she’s never been one to have team meetings.

I mean, they sit down at lunch, they’ll go out, but this doctor talks to her staff all day, every day. They, all of her staff have been with her for years and years and years. And she actually is the dentist in the area that other people want to work for. So hygienists will say, if you ever had an opening, let me know.

She just recently had a couple of dentists that retired and all of his patients or their patients are coming to her practice.

Ao we sit down with his staff and let them know that things are going to change a little bit. We need to take more time to educate patients. Thanks. If the patients are properly educated, then there’s going to be more and more case acceptance because moving forward, the doctor is going to be doing treatment planning a little bit different.

There’s going to be the need for more patient education. When we go to the conference next month, there’s going to be a lot more education for the staff and then it’s implementing that education moving forward. So we’ve got a lot of of training that’s scheduled to take place. Once we implement. All of the things that we learn.

It’s just like when we go back from an 8 arm conference, we go back, all of the office managers and administrative team members go back, fired up and equipped with all of this wonderful knowledge as practice administrators

Heather: or administrators. I said, I’m excited for you. What an exciting place to be in your practice.

Very exciting. I mean, you’re helping build the future that how, how great is that? I mean, and, and help someone’s vision come to life, which, uh, you know, I’m sure will help others visions come to life within the practice. So thank you. That is amazing. How has it been working with a consulting company for you as manager?

Terri: We are just on the cusp of that. And I think a consulting, working with a consulting company, it has to be the right fit. They are not all cookie cutter offices. So the consulting company, they all, every one of them. And there’s so many wonderful companies out there, but they all have a different way that they work.

And we, we reviewed a lot of different companies over the last two years before we found the one that was going to be the right fit for our practice. It’s a customized, it’s a customized way of working with us. So it’s not just cookie cutter. They’re not going, well, this is what works. So this is how we’re going to do it.

It’s this is what’s going to work for our office. They listen. I’s kind of funny because the way that we’ve always looked at the practice is we want our doctor to put the patients first to listen to their needs. But when we’re looking at a consulting company, we wanted that as well. We wanted somebody who was going to put the patient first and help the doctor be more profitable and be more productive while working less.

Heather: Love it. Love it. That’s so exciting. So I have to ask you, you said something. So in this, the, in these days, it’s very, very difficult for managers to find team members, assistants, hygienists. You said in your town, you have the dentist everybody wants to work, you have the practice people want to come work for.

I think we have so many managers who would, Love to be in that position. So what is the secret? What’s going on at your practice that a hygienist will call and say, Hey, let me know when a position opens up. Cause that’s quite the opposite of what we’re seeing in the industry where people just cannot find people to come to work.

Terri: Well, for one thing, the doctor is phenomenal. She’s absolutely phenomenal. She believes in her patients. She believes in her team. She supports her team. She’s created an environment that is stress free. She listens to what her staff needs and make sure that they have what they need. Whether it’s I can only work one day a week or she has several staff members that just work part time or they job share so that it works into their lifestyle and that’s

Heather: what I think that’s what works.

So that’s a win win though. It works for their lifestyle and. Then they’re loyal to your practice because you’re accommodating them. That sounds fantastic. Yeah. So yeah, that’s great. So you’re all going on this big trip next month to a conference. Is this, this is for training with the consulting company?

Yes. So I, I’m intrigued because we find very often dentists are so, so, what’s the word, frugal with their team, and don’t want to invest and don’t want to, you know, pay for them to go here and go there. So you’re very fortunate to be in a practice where they, where your doctor understands the value of that and the value of that investment.

What advice would you have, A, for dentists listening who. Don’t do that. And don’t bring the team along and don’t invest in their CE. And what advice would you have for a manager? Let’s say who’s in a practice where the doctor does not invest. And I, I’m guessing you’ve probably, you know, you’ve been just even consulting at several practices.

So you’ve probably seen. Yep. So what are the pros and cons of investing in your team?

Terri: Well, I mean, I’ve worked, uh, both sides of the fence. I worked in a practice where I, I invested in myself. So as an office manager, practice administrator, administrative team member, whatever you are, invest in yourself.

Invest in your knowledge, in your experience, in your education, spread your wings, embark on all of those wonderful journeys that, that you want to take. Because having that knowledge within yourself is going to make all the difference. I know my, I know my job. I know what I do and I’m good at it because I invested in myself.

In this particular case with this office, uh, the doctor has this vision. She wants a marketable practice. She wants an investment grade practice. She wants something that another dentist is going to come in and go, Hey, I want to be part of this. The only way that she’s going to be able to do that is if her her team ignites for them to be excited like she is excited.

They have to see it all. They have to feel it all. They have to learn. There’s I laughed because I was just having this conversation with the doctor last night and she just booked all of the plane tickets. She goes, I’m having anxiety. And I said, yeah, but look where you’re going to be. Look where we’re going to be in a month and look at where we’ve come in two years.

And, and in 12 months, we’re going to hit that million dollar mark. You know, it’s going to play for itself, but your team has to be on

Heather: board. Yes. Yes. There’s nothing more frustrating. I know when managers, for instance, go to a conference like eight, I’m going to get all jazzed and all this great information.

And you go back and it’s Monday morning for everybody else. Right? So the fact that. Your doctor sees the value in taking the team along this journey. We’ll come back and reward her many times over. So tell her not to have anxiety. That’s

Terri: because when, when she first, I left, when she first planned to go to this conference, she was going to just go by yourself and I’m like, wait a minute.

And then, the more we talked about it, the more excited she got about it. And the more we looked at what was involved in and the aspects of learning that was involved for not just her clinical team, but her administrative team for her as a doctor. You could see the excitement build. And when she went, uwhen she had the meeting and talked to the team and they all got excited to you mean we can go, we can do this and And, she’s even taking staff members that are only in the office for one day.

Heather: Wonderful. That is wonderful. And I think it’s so great for the team because not only are you going to learn and be educated, you’re going to be together. Right. And that’s, you know, you’ll be making memories and, and, and really you get to know each other in the practice, but how nice to get to know each other outside the practice.

So I’m so excited for you. Now, I can’t wait to like check in with you a year from now. Thanks for having me. Two years and five years from now, like I’m, I’m in, I want to just try it. That’s what we do. Very, very exciting. So let’s see, Kansas City, Super Bowl. I know I’m not supposed to date a podcast, but right.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods down there?

Terri: Oh my goodness. I mean, if you’re going to, let’s, if we could talk to you. We could talk to. Let’s talk Chief. I know

Heather: when this is airing, so I don’t know. Hopefully, it shouldn’t matter. Talk, talk chiefs with everybody. Kansas

Terri: City is so excited right now.

Everywhere you go, people are decked out in Kansas City Chief’s gear. You can’t walk down the street and not see somebody sporting a Kansas City Chief’s t-shirt or sweatshirt or something. Every downtown Kansas City is just a light of red. All of the office buildings are lit up in the Kansas City Chiefs colors.

There, the Union Station is all decked out. It’s just, it’s exciting. Where are you

Heather: going to be? Where are you going to be for Super Bowl? For the Super

Terri: Bowl? Hmm. I’m going to sit at home and watch the game in peace and quiet.

Heather: Okay,

Terri: there’s, there’s too much on the line we are, we are dying

Heather: to be like interrupted.

Right? Yeah. You can actually like, we want to watch the game. Okay. Yes. So let’s switch gears for a minute now. I’d love to talk about AADOM with you. How did you find it? And that’s always so interesting to me to, to learn how our members, especially our rock star members like you, how did you find AADOM?

How’d you hear about us?

Terri: Well, I’ll tell ya, many years ago, I say many years ago, about 10 years ago I went back to college. I’ve been in dental all this time and I thought my dentist was getting ready to retire and I was going to have to I was going to have to get another job So I went back to college did four years have my bachelor’s degree in health information management and really thought I was going to Have to switch gears and go into the hospital hospital industry.

But Then I started looking for Where could I learn more about being a better office manager? You Because I didn’t know. I’d never heard of AADOM. And I found, I found AADOM on the website, or on the internet. I found AADOM and I was like, Ooh, what is this? And I joined. I didn’t know anything about it. I just joined AADOM.

I said, okay, this is for office managers. I really don’t want to have to switch careers. I want to be able to put my knowledge and experience to use. I want my years in dentistry to count for something. So I found AADOM, which was great. But then I found the Kansas City chapter of AADOM, which changed my life.

I walked into my first chapter meeting, straight from the office and was greeted like I was coming home. These, these women just embraced me and welcomed me. And, um, I learned so much. I just, I got so excited with, with every chapter meeting and we would bring speakers in and they asked for volunteers and I’m going to volunteer for everything.

Speaker 3: I mean,

Terri: you want volunteers. I am there. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m going to do it. Um, but all of a sudden I realized that. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t by myself when I was an office manager in a small town in office. Managers didn’t talk together. Um, I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. And AADOM showed that to me as the president of our Kansas City chapter.

I want to reach out to the, the small town offices, those little rural offices and these office managers who don’t know that there’s another way who don’t know that they have resources. And AADOM gives you those resources. They give you an outlet. They give you a place to learn. They give you a place to, to belong.

Um, when you say I found my tribe, that never made sense. And I will say, um, I was like, I was in the middle of it until I was in the middle of it until I was in the middle of it until I was was meeting these women and being accepted women, men, dentists, team members, and being accepted as one of them. And they understood.

The struggles and the challenges and the rewards and the joys. Um, I think that anybody who is involved in dentistry and makes it a career, it’s in their DNA. It’s just how we’re built and we’ve all got something in common and this gives us a place to, to be ourselves with other people who understand and get it.

And it’s, it’s just, It’s the best thing ever. It was, it was the most exciting experience going to my first AADOM conference. I’m like,

Heather: So, yeah, that’s like, that’s like a chapter on steroids, probably, right? Yeah. Well, that’s so beautiful. I mean, that, that makes that really, I mean, makes me so happy to know that at a local level, you found your tribe first. Um, usually it’s the other way around people come to national and then they realize there’s a chapter.

So that makes me super happy to know you found your local tribe and, and you know what we mean when we say your tribe now and that’s,

Terri: yes, I will tell you, I went to conference in 2023 for the first time. I had never been there. I’ve been in AADOM since 2016. I’d never been to conference. Um, I, unfortunately I did work in an office where the doctor didn’t support continuing education and I was determined in 2023 that I was going to conference.

Um, I may have had a motivating factor. I wanted my fellowship, I wanted my fellowship and I knew I had to go to conference. So I went to conference and I signed up for Anything that, that, um, you guys had, I signed up for if I was, if there was a volunteer, I volunteered. Faces of AADOM, I volunteered and as I’m at this conference and I’m meeting and greeting and talking to people, um, The funny thing is most people go, this is your first conference, but you’re, but you act like a pro it’s because it fits.

AADOM just fits whether it’s your first time or your 15th time there. It doesn’t matter. These people are just phenomenal. Um, but conference was, I’m so excited for Vegas. I can’t say enough.

Heather: I’m so excited. And, and it not only, I was gonna say it never gets old. Not only does it never get old, it just gets better and more energy.

And that’s something I can’t take any credit for. My mission was always just to provide business education, the tribe element that was organic. That’s real. That was something that was never in the business plan. So that, that is a real living, breathing component of what AADOM is. And that’s what I think really sets us apart from other.

Associations. Um, it’s a level of support. It’s just phenomenal. It’s the level of support and love and caring that our members have for one another is real. It’s um, it’s, it’s, it’s magic. So I’m, I’m so happy that you’re able to share that. So talk to me about the distinction program. How did you find that?

And you said earlier, you invested, you’re talking about something else, but you said, I invested in myself. And what, what an important statement, because a lot of people don’t, they’re too busy or they don’t think they’re worth it or a million and one excuses. But you said I invested in myself. So what, what does that mean to you?

And then how did you find the designation program at AADOM?

Terri: Um, I firmly believe that I want to be the best at what I’m doing. Um, if I’m working AR, I want to know everything that I need to know. If I’m doing insurance, I want to know everything that I can possibly know. Um, so for me, I invest in a lot of continuing education.

Fortunately, AADOM offers a lot of continuing education. Um, I’m thankful that when I was at AADOM in 2023 and signed up for conference for 24, you had that component with Teresa Duncan and the masteries course. And I’ve taken that and it was phenomenal. It’s amazing as administrative team members. You’ve heard often people say, you don’t know what you don’t know.

You aren’t aware of what you don’t know. Um, So I take the time to do those continuing education courses on AADOM. I take the time to go to virtual chapter meetings and learn. I’m constantly reading something that’s going to help me to be better as an administrator, to be better as a finance coordinator or an insurance billing specialist, um, or just As a coworker, you know, I want to be better at who I am.

As a person, so I can be better as a leader.

Heather: That is so inspiring. That is so inspiring. That is, I mean, that is everything right there. So you, you just, you want to be the best that you can be the best her you can be. Right. I mean, and it’s like what I’m learning, talking to so many rockstar numbers is.

Whether it’s life, whether it’s AADOM, whether it’s your practice, you get out what you put in and the more you put in, the more you get out and the more fun it is and the more satisfied you are. So the fact that you’ve been investing in yourself and you want to have that continuous self improvement, I think really is an example for managers to follow because it just makes everything great.

It makes everything so much better. So, and, and to your point, you said you don’t know what you don’t know. Totally agree. And you can never stop learning. And something like Teresa Duncan, her insurance course at AADOM, just when you think you know it, it changes, right? So, we have, we have members who go to Teresa’s insurance class every year.

I’m like, weren’t you in this last year? But it’s changing. Dentistry is always changing. So you really, you’ll never know it all, which is what keeps it exciting.

Terri: Absolutely. Um, for me, insurance is a puzzle

Heather: that I have to solve. What a fun way to look at it. Wow. You just took the boring out of dental insurance.

You just made it, you just made a challenge right there.

Terri: Um, but to talk on, to talk on the, um, fellowship for a moment, um, for me. I’m an administrative team member. I’m a practice administrator. I’m an office manager. And I have a college degree with health information management, but I wanted to know what I could do to step up my game. And, um, when AADOM started offering the distinction program, um, I found it during COVID actually.

Um, and I thought, Ooh, let’s, let’s look at this. Um, but completing my My fellowship, completing everything that I needed for FAADOM, it gave me the push that I needed to continue educating myself, to keep taking those courses, to keep going to those chapter meetings, and to keep planning those events that were going to ignite excitement in other office managers.

Um, I I cried when I watched, um, stuff, um, other ladies walk across the, the floor last year and get their designation for, for fellowship and, and, um, yeah, yeah, I know. Um, I will be one of those walking across the floor in Vegas this year. And every time I think about where I was when I started in dentistry, Where I was when I started with AADOM and where I am today.

Um, I just want to share the excitement with everybody and it’s, for me, it’s a personal journey, but it’s so exciting and it’s so fulfilling. And thank you for giving us that platform. Thank you for giving us that avenue of bringing us all together in one area, in one platform that we could all learn and grow and find the joy in what we do.

Heather: Yeah, that’s so true. There it is, right? Anyone, anyone can learn business skills, but finding your joy. And you said something earlier where you, when you hear something from one of your team, you, you just choose to spin it in a positive way that I caught my ear. Because we all have a choice. We can all take, everything is neutral.

You can make it negative or positive, and you are just such a positive person. Everyone has that choice, right? You can take information and make it positive. Take dental insurance and make it a puzzle. I mean, what a fantastic outlook. So,

Terri: man, are we lucky. I’ve always told, I’ve always told, I’ve told my kids, I’ve told my friends, I’ve told my staff.

Um, life is a journey of choices. But you have to make the decision on which choice you’re going to make. I choose every day to get up and be happy. Trust me. When it’s gloomy outside and it’s Monday, I’m going to be happy. I’m going to say, this is an absolutely amazing day. Did you see? It is cloudy outside.

It’s going to rain today. Isn’t that awesome? Because I choose positivity and it didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning. Oh, I’m just naturally going to be this way, but it was a journey. It was a daily choice. If you stop and think about it, when you’re a parent and you’ve got a house full of kids, mom chooses mom makes the decision on how the house is going to feel that day based on mom’s attitude that morning.

If mom gets up grumpy, what do you think those kids are going to be like all day? It’s the same way in an office. If you come in, what do you think that office is going to be like all day? You know, come in happy, come in energized, come in excited, find your bliss, find your joy, find your purpose, um, and it’ll, it’ll just trickle at, trickle down to your staff and before you know it, everybody’s happy.

Heather: What a, what a, what a game changer and, and just a simple shift, right? And if you’re not joyful, maybe, I don’t want to say you’re not in the right practice, but I think at the end of the day, I think dentistry is a joyful business. Right? I mean, at the end of the day, not to sound cliche, but we’re changing people’s lives.

We’re changing their health. We’re changing their smiles. We’re changing their outlook. So be proud and it’s what, what did, what did a joy to be able to have a part in that? So, and, and you’re building a business on top of it, you’re, you’re building someone’s vision and a business. So all good things. I wasn’t asking to leave our members with, with a word of wisdom, but I, I don’t, I think you just did.

So yeah, choose joy. If you choose joy, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for everything you do at AADOM. Thank you for investing in yourself and for being an example to others to do that. And thank you for everything you do at the local level. Um, it’s just so appreciated. And, um, yeah, Go Chiefs.

Go Chiefs. Thank you so much, Terry. And I will see you in Vegas. Definitely. Sounds wonderful.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Be sure to watch our video now to enjoy Heather and Terri discussing how AADOM can help you thrive as a dental office manager!


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