An Open Letter to My Younger Self
Welcome to Spring 1979.
Soon, you’ll graduate from vocational school with a diploma in dental assisting. Top of the class! You’ve spent two years during high school studying for this rewarding career.
I am so proud of your accomplishment. Hang in there because you’ll not believe what’s going to happen!
I know you are just 18 years old, and life seems a bit challenging. You’re young, shy, and a bit timid. You’re also intuitive, focused, and smart.
A position as a dental assistant will be offered to you, and you’ll gladly accept. The dentists are young, energetic, and eager to build their practice. You’ll use this opportunity to be the best dental assistant possible. Pay close attention to the details of dental office operations, as they’ll become very important in the foreseeable future.
You’ll marry and have two children.
Over time, you’ll transition from a dental assistant into a role of a dental office manager. Don’t be overwhelmed as you learn about HR, insurance, scheduling, and other aspects of management.
Away from the office, you’ll grow flowers, be the scorekeeper for your son’s ball team, and teach your teenagers to drive.
There will be adventures beyond belief. Life will be full.
You’ll face frustration, loss, and turmoil. With the support of your family, you find the strength to keep moving forward. You’ll remarry, blend a new family, and start volunteering with a homeless shelter.
Trust me now, middle-aged Jane, there’s more adventure to come!
You’ll join a relatively new organization, The American Association of Dental Office Management. You’ve never had access to so much dental management education, and you’re excited to start studying!
A job opportunity will come along, and you make a move to a new office. While change can be a bit intimidating, I know you’re prepared.
Over the next few years, you’ll be blessed with grandchildren, learn sign language, and do some traveling. Your role with the homeless shelter will expand, and you’ll volunteer hundreds of hours.
A balance between home, career, and volunteering will become extremely important.
You’ll support and encourage other dental office managers while continuing to work full-time. Some of your friends will suggest that you transition to become a dental consultant. However, you know you’re at your best in the office manager role.
The AADOM organization will bring hundreds of new friends into your life. You’ll experience a level of support that was previously non-existent. You’ll find a renewed energy.
AADOM will inspire you to share your love of writing, and you’ll actually become a published author!
In 2012, you’ll walk the stage as a FAADOM and then, in 2020, a MAADOM. Later this year, I’ll watch with pride as you achieve DAADOM. You’ll celebrate with your tribe. It’ll be amazing!
Jane, you’ll have a wonderful and rewarding career. You’ll face challenges and persevere through trying times. Near the end of your career, you’ll know when it is time to step away. Before this time comes, you’ll love dentistry and the people you have met along the way.
When life gets tough, don’t give up! Hang in there because you’re going to continue to be the best you possibly can be.
You’ll learn what it means to become AADOM Strong!
Meet the Author
Jane Walkley has been in love with dentistry since 1979. She frequently supports local offices with software and insurance training, as well as implementing systems and protocols.
She’s a lifetime AADOM member who received her Fellowship in 2012. Then in 2020, Jane was inducted into the first class of AADOM Masters.
In her personal time, Jane volunteers with a local nonprofit that facilitates a cold-weather shelter, serving on their Board of Directors. She and her husband live in rural Maryland with their three cats.