How I Achieved Long-Term Career Success as a Dental Office Manager

Catherine Maurer with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

Over 50 years ago, I entered the dental world as a teenager.

Yes, back in the days when we lined the casting equipment used to make gold crowns and inlays with asbestos sheets, dipped our gloveless hands into the instrument cleaning solutions, and spent hours in the darkroom dipping x-rays in and out of different chemicals to make our images appear.

I left the field for a time for education, marriage, and beginning my life in a different field.

One day, I received an invitation to return to dentistry as an office manager.

My employer at that time warned me, “You’ll be bored,” as I gave my final notice.

He was mistaken.

My career as a dental office manager

It has been challenging, rewarding, difficult, and exciting, but never boring.

Often, I have felt the burden of being a responsible person in charge of so much and so many.

It isn’t easy being the glue, which a good office manager is. We keep all the parts and facets of a practice functioning together.

Not once in the last four decades has the word boredom crossed my lips.

I had a very small network of other office managers, consultants, and dentists who I was in contact with through the years, a minimalist support team at best. Dental journals and conventions offered similar support.

Then, in 2017, I received an email from Betsy Cord, a fellow office manager who was beginning a chapter of AADOM in my hometown.

I remember well that first meeting.

Betsy explained what inspired her to take on this new role. She realized, now that her children were on their way to self-sufficiency, that she was lacking relationships with like-minded people to herself. She said, as she aged and continued her role in the field, she would value exchanging ideas and spending time with others who could relate to her job title.

It was magic to my ears.

How AADOM helped me

Betsy went on to be the 2018 Practice Administrator of the Year. Aptly chosen, she still leads our small but ardent band of office managers.

Our meetings, virtual or not, are always beneficial. Even more so, the friendships and support we have garnered.

I keep a card on my desk sent to me by Heather Colicchio, AADOM’s founder and president. It came to me as a thank you for writing a review about AADOM; she does not know it, but it’s so much more than a thank you card. The front of the card says, “Never stop looking up,” and as I have rocketed into the third quarter of my life, it sums up so much.

To be successful as a dental office manager, being able to see the positive about people and experiences in the business is critical.

We would lose our collective minds without buoyancy and hope as personality traits.

Being eager to learn is another element of our jobs.

We don’t know everything (as much as I like to think I sometimes do), and the information changes. New applications, technology, and discoveries are regularly thrust upon us. It’s our mission to see them coming and learn, which may be valuable for implementation into our practices.

And then there is our workplace family.

Regardless of how functional it is, it’s comprised of different personalities, moods, stresses, and motivations, which make our practices and workplaces very much like a traditional “family.” It’s a cooperative affair, where our role is to keep each team member healthy and functioning so that, collectively, we share in the success and prosperity. It will not always be perfect, but we are a family.

These epiphanies are not new.

AADOM and Heather have been preaching them from the start.

AADOM is all about optimism, personal growth, and family. Their tagline LEARN · CONNECT · GROW succinctly says it all.

Take it from someone who has enjoyed a long, successful career as an office manager; never stop looking up.

Meet the Author

Catherine Maurer in glasses outsideCathy started working in her father’s dental practice over 50 years ago. After all this time, she still loves dentistry, the patients, and working with her team; some of which have been by her side for more than 20-30 years.

She enjoys the incorporation of new technology and learning about the science behind the oral-systemic health connection.


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