3 Things I Learned While Starting an AADOM Chapter During a Global Pandemic

Angie Winters, MAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

Start a local chapter they said. It will be fun they said….but for a little extra fun, let’s launch the chapter during a global pandemic.

Let’s be honest, 2020 was hard, but it gave us all the opportunity to learn, grow and accomplish something we may have been putting off.

For me, it had been putting off starting a local chapter. There was always something. I was too new to AADOM. I was getting ready to open a brand-new office, I was too busy.

Finally, 2020 was my year; I was going to start a local chapter! The official launch date was January 2, 2020. Little did I know what the rest of 2020 would hold for me or for the rest of the world.

It may not have been the ideal year to get things accomplished quickly, but I did learn quite a bit along the way that could benefit anyone looking to start a local chapter.

1. Building your board

When selecting or recruiting your board members, choose people with common goals and visions for your chapter, those with a strong work ethic, and if possible, board members from different specialties.

Choosing individuals with common goals and visions for your chapter allows you to accomplish them at a faster pace.

When you have too many chiefs with differing ideas of how things should get done, nothing gets accomplished.

Interview your board members just as you would an employee to identify their wants and needs to determine if they’re a good fit. Make sure you have board members who are willing to work.

Let’s face it, as office managers we already have our hands full running a practice; we need to have board members that we can delegate to in order to have a successful launch.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work and training that needs to be accomplished before you even host your first meeting.

Lack of commitment to the initial planning and training for the chapter could be a red flag for their future commitment. Back to having board members from different specialties—if possible—this diversity allows you to reach a greater audience for chapter members.

Also, gaining perspective from differing specialties may allow chapter members to draw from the knowledge of others outside of their specialty to solve a problem that has been plaguing their practice.

2. Patience

This was the hardest lesson of 2020 for me. The constantly changing schedules, the deadlines that would come and go with no forward movement, and phone calls that were never returned.

For my OCD personality that likes my calendar planned out months in advance, 2020 definitely tested my patience. Hopefully as our country starts to open back up and things start to look a little more normal, the problems that I faced will not continue to plague those wanting to launch a chapter.

Just in case they do, know that EVERYTHING WILL TAKE LONGER so plan for it and be prepared for the worst case scenario.

With state offices functioning with reduced staff, it may take a significant amount of time to get a business license.

Without your NPI and business license, you are unable to get a business checking account and without your business checking account, you are unable to get funding from your founding sponsor. All of these road blocks led me to my final tip.

3. Get creative

Our board was in place, all of our training was complete, we had polled local interest, and we had office managers who wanted to join us at a meeting…but we had one little problem; we still didn’t have our business license.

Which meant we didn’t have any funds to host the meeting! At this point, reach out to your sponsors to see if they are willing to sponsor the meeting space, food, or speaker directly, so you don’t have to deal with any exchange of money. Collaborate with other chapters.

With budgets tighter and fewer sponsorships in 2020, we were able to reach out to another Montana chapter and host a larger event that would not have been possible on either of our budgets alone. Get to know your other local and state chapters and let the collaboration begin.

Go virtual.

One of the greatest things that came out of 2020 was our increased ability to work online. Going virtual dramatically cuts the cost of events and speakers, and allowed us to offer the event to a broader audience.

It also gives you the ability to work with chapters hundreds or thousands of miles away to host an amazing event. Last but not least, have fun, enjoy the ride, and know that the work you put in will pay off in the end.

Meet the AuthorAngie Winters in blue top outside

Angie Winters, MAADOM is a busy practice manager, wife and mother of 3 beautiful children. A 2002 graduate of the University of Montana holding a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry, she began her dental career in 1997 while still in high school as a chair side dental assistant.

Her drive to learn led her to a practice management position of a large pediatric dental practice in 2010. In 2018, Angie left her position to open 3 Rivers Pediatric Dentistry.

Angie earned her AADOM Fellowship in 2019 and in 2021 earned her AADOM Mastership designation.

She recently launched the Northwest Montana AADOM chapter. In her free time, she stays busy shuffling her children to soccer, football, track and wrestling.

She enjoys early morning runs with her dog and spending time with her family in the outdoors enjoying all that Montana has to offer.

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