Artistry in Dentistry and Artistry in Creating


“What is it that gets you excited to get up and go to work every day?” 

In 2012, I was asked this question during an interview for a software sales position, and it stopped me in my tracks.  I could lie, or I could face the truth: I wasn’t excited to get up and go to work…ever. This question, or more specifically, the revelation of my answer to it was a turning point in my life.  I didn’t know at the time that one interview would change my direction and career path forever. 

I have always loved the arts and being creative. Yet, for some reason, I was applying for a software sales position. Given my track record of switching roles within the dental field, it was obvious to the interviewer that I was still searching for something. He could see through my veneer of trying to do “the logical thing.”  I just didn’t see it until it was pointed out.

When I graduated dental assisting school in 2003, no one told me how hard it would be to find a job without any experience.  I found a job at a general practice as a hygiene assistant and company mascot. That’s right! I stood on the side of the road in my tooth costume dancing with my toothbrush.  I was a step above those creepy inflatables whipping in the wind at car dealerships! However, it got my foot in the door and started slowly walking to a path that I thought I wanted to be my life.  While I was dancing on the hot sidewalks; I furthered my education and earned my DAII certifications.

More money, better schedule…not passion

After working at that practice for several years, I took a job closer to home at an orthodontic practice (one where I would not be wearing a tooth costume).  I loved the freedom of looking at a patient’s chart and knowing what they needed next. Orthodontic assisting was very rewarding, and I enjoyed seeing the same faces every 4 to 6 weeks.  Some of their results were truly life-changing! 

Still, I became burnt out with leaning over patients all day long.  So, I decided to take a front desk and treatment coordinator position.  This allowed to me learn another side of the business and become more valuable to the dental practice itself.  While I enjoyed learning everything from billing and insurance to sales, something was still missing.  

I felt stuck in my career with no opportunity for advancement.   I even considered enrolling in a dental hygiene program knowing good and well that I was just doing it for more money and a better work schedule…not passion.  I submitted my resume to several job postings online and only had a few call back.  Prior to working in dental, I had been in property management. The software program that I had used was looking for a sales rep in the Raleigh area. 

I got an interview.  

I remember pulling up to this huge corporate style building with 7 floors.  The office space had floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the town. In that moment I felt like, this is it! This is what I had been searching for.  

For the final step in the interview, I met with the decision-maker. We talked for a while about my resume, he put my papers down and then asked me that life-changing question.

“What is it that gets you excited to get up and go to work every day?”  

With a blank stare, I looked out the window trying to come up with the right answer to get the job.  

Then he said, “It’s a simple question, what are you passionate about?”  

I said, “I love art and being creative.”  

Renewed sense of motivation.

He said, “Then that is what you should be doing; not selling software.  We are all given talents and it’s up to us to use them.  It would be a shame if you didn’t.”  Now back at square one and feeling like he just talked me out of working there, it gave me a new direction and path to pursue.  I left that interview, with a renewed sense of motivation. Sometimes all it takes is meeting the right person at the right time to push you forward.  I decided to enroll in art school in 2013. 

I had to change my workload to part-time and I went to school full time.  It was tough on my family to take a pay cut while I attended college for 4 years. Meanwhile, the current dental practice I was working for opened a new position and I became their marketing director.  I loved it, and it not only allowed me to utilize my creativity but also what I was learning in school. 

In 2017, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Design.  Learning graphic design applications gave me the knowledge and base skills to create digital campaigns and combine my artistic skills with my dental knowledge.  To learn more about marketing, I worked at an advertising agency on my days off as an intern.  After 5 years as a marketing director, I took a leap and started my own healthcare advertising agency

Tenell Marketing. 

Tenell Marketing is a full-service healthcare advertising agency specializing in branding, event planning, websites, and graphic design.  Our number one goal is to promote better health. I sought out to create a unique list of marketing services completely catered and directed towards a patient-centered practice.  None of my campaigns are template based and everything is branded for your vision and your practice. I pride myself on selling services that are based on what you need and not based on billable hours.  Everything I offer is a la carte.  

To this day, I am thankful for that life-changing question. Remember to follow your dreams, pursue your passions, and never let your talents go to waste. 



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