I am known as Dentistry’s “Image” Expert. However, I entered the world of dentistry by sheer chance, and the world of “image” by necessity. That’s because I unexpectedly became a single mom in 1982 when my children were 6, 4, 3, and 2 years old.
While I had a college education and a degree in microbiology, I had only a limited resume. After all, like many women of my generation and economic background, I had been raised to be an educated wife.
My father was a physician, my mother a college-educated stay-at-home mom. And I was on course to duplicate that model. Like my dad, I loved the sciences. Anything to do with anatomy I found interesting. And because I was raised without a television in the house, I read incessantly. A favorite outing was having my dad take me to the library to stock back up on reading material.
I chuckle when I remember my father’s graduation gift from high school: the 1971 PDR. And yet it was, perhaps, a foreshadowing of things to come. At the time, though I was interested in medicine, my plan was a full-time job at home. Like my mom.
Do You Have a Good Image?
When necessity hit, I started job hunting. But one after another, they turned me away. Why was it that I could land a good date, but not a good job? I really needed a job.
Smart enough to know I needed to change something in my job search, I attended a course for professional woman on “image.” Lessons learned? First impressions are lasting impressions. At 32 years of age, I had to get people see me in the best light. Professionalism is of utmost importance.
So I bought what I considered to be a “boring brown” interview suit and knocked on doors again.
I landed my first job! A part-time position as a health educator at Woodlake Family Health Center. That position became a full-time position when I wrote a successful proposal to the state of California for funding.
Two years later, I was given the position of executive Director for the medical clinic. And at 35, I had a budget of 2.6 million dollars. Dr. Ken Kaiser, then the Medical Director of California, recognized me for running the most profitable healthcare facility. There were 84 rural healthcare facilities, and only four executive directors were women at that point in time.
Because of my success in the medical arena, I went on to do practice management training for physicians who worked in rural areas and physicians employed by hospitals in similar surroundings. Hospitals had a high turnover rate for physicians recruited to these areas, and they wanted to make sure they were set up for success when they were no longer subsidized by the hospital.
On to Dentistry Management
My involvement in dentistry came from my misreading an employment ad in the Sacramento Bee. They were advertising for someone experienced in healthcare practice management. I assumed it was in medicine. The company was called Practice Perfect, and it was made up of a general dentist and two practice management consultants. They sold me on the customer service aspect of dentistry. It really appealed to me because customer service was really missing in medicine at that time.
For a year, I worked in a dental office from 3 PM to 9 PM to learn the ropes. Dentistry, insurance billing, case presentation, etc. Then, from 10 PM to 2 AM, I did my medical consulting. In the morning, I was at home to get my children ready for the day. But it was often pitch black when I returned at night. Knowing I needed a change from the grueling schedule, I went out on my own as a dental consultant. And never looked back!
My Very Own Practice
My membership to the group ADMC Academy of Dental Management Consultants was crucial to my sanity and my success. Working as a solo dental consultant can be very isolating. So it was a real boost to go to the yearly meetings for education and fellowship. And the knowledge they offered, gave me what I needed to grow my business larger year after year.
Another key resource in my success was the group founded by Linda Miles of the Speaker’s Consulting Network. It was Linda who, two years in a row, used my services as an Image Consultant. She was a fellow AMC member, and often roomed with me for the yearly meetings. she knew I could visually change one’s appearance to optimize their image.
I Haven’t Looked Back
That was 15 years ago, and I have been doing makeovers and executive coaching ever since. People travel to San Diego and spend time in my two-day workshops, or they book one-on-one time with me. And they’ve learned to expect to have all their questions answered (and all their shopping done!) by the time they leave.
As a hands-on dental consultant I continue to help doctors run efficient and effective practices. I love how unique each business situation is. And really, achieving one’s goals, no matter how diverse those goals, is the definition of success. My business model is to be in contact with my dental clients daily. We review their schedules, huddle sheets, and staff meeting notes, spending two days a month actually on site. I personally have to see and hear the energy taking place within the team and with their patients to be of best assistance.
Your Image Is Your Success
Your Image, Your Brand, Your Success is one of the most popular CE courses I present at this time. It’s critical to keep up on what is happening in dentistry today and to look at every interaction, every impression, from the patient’s point of view.
When I began my career, it was a disadvantage to be a female and so young. It was clear to me that I would only be seen for the capabilities I had and given the opportunities I desired if I was conscious and careful to project my very best. I now offer those options to every office and every team member I work with, and I do it with a heart of service.
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