My story…. Where do I begin?
I was a senior in high school and my mom was an office manager for a small dental practice. She hired me to come in after school to help with sterilization, tray setups, developing x-rays (I loved developing x-rays in that small dark room, you know back in the “olden” days). After I graduated high school, Dr. J.C. Hill hired me full time as his dental assistant. This is where my love for dentistry began.
I assisted for many years and in 2005, I accepted a position as a treatment coordinator in a local orthodontic office. Dr. David Hamilton and Dr. Jason Herring showed me what leadership was all about. They believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Dr. Hamilton would always tell me I was a leader in his practice. I must admit, it took me many years to understand what he meant, I never saw myself as a leader.
I grew tremendously in my 13 years at Hamilton & Herring Orthodontics, as a person, a team member, a leader, and much more. My time here was spent surrounded by leaders and wonderful, supportive women (my 1st DeW’s), and I learned what it meant to be part of a team. It’s a blessing to still have their love and support.
A Better Fit
In January of 2017, I accepted a position as a dental assistant in a private, general practice in my hometown. What I need to mention is, I am not a very good dental assistant. After assisting and helping some in the front office for about 8 months, Dr. Joshua Millsaps realized I was a “better fit” on the front office team. In August of 2017, he offered me an office manager position and I accepted. I was so excited, I thought this is perfect, this is exactly what I want to do. To learn everything I could learn about being the greatest leader and manager, and change the world of dentistry.
However, I learned very quickly that life as an office manager was not as glorified as the leadership books made it seem. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, I would not want to do anything else. There are days when the server goes down, the toilet overflows, 15 fabulous team members need you all at once, and your wonderful dentist asks, “can you come back here for just one minute?”. At the end of the day you ask yourself, is this what I signed up for? I thought I was going to be motivating and leading, not plunging toilets. But you know what? Yes, that is what I signed up for. As an office manager, we do what needs to be done and it is awesome!
I had found my people!
One day, our wonderful Patterson rep, Pam, invited me to a conference that Patterson was sponsoring. It was Laura Hatch’s “Front Office Rocks” conference. I attended with two of my front office team members. It was incredible! I had found my people! Laura spoke about AADOM and at the time I had never heard of AADOM. I went home from the conference full of energy and excitement and immediately joined, and I have absolutely loved being a member, the resources, the training, the encouragement, and support. This next year, I hope to complete the fellowship requirements and am hoping to attend my first AADOM conference in 2020.
I loved the idea of the local AADOM chapters and thought this is exactly what my dental community needs. So, I reached out to AADOM but at that time there were some regulations on how close the chapters could be to one another (I believe this has since changed) and there was already one about 1½ hours away. It was going to be too hard for me to attend those meetings after a long day of work and driving that distance.
So, in 2018, I started my own study club for dental office managers and administrators. On April 19, 2018 “Foothills Dental Office Administrator’s and Manager’s Association” (FDOAMA) had their first meeting. I spoke on “How to Deal with Drama and Gossip in the Dental Office”. Dr. Josh Millsaps allowed me to hold the meetings in the lobby at the office. I am very grateful to him and his support. I am very lucky to work for a dentist that supports the dreams and goals of his team.
As a father of three little girls, it is important for Dr. Millsaps to encourage and support women. And, I have the greatest team as well, each one of them supports me. Though they do get worried when I attend a meeting because they never know what ideas I am going to come back with. But they are always good sports and put up with me.
Open to All
My purpose for starting FDOAMA was to provide support, training, advice, and a safe space for the DeW’s in my dental community, just as AADOM had been for me. I decided not to have any membership dues or cost of any kind, as I wanted everyone to be able to join and be part of this group. I personally take care of all the costs of the meetings so that money isn’t a hindrance to anyone joining. A few specialists in the area heard about what I was trying to do, and they have helped out by purchasing food for a few of my meetings. I am so grateful for their help.
FDOAMA has meetings every other month. I speak at some (which is where I have found my love for speaking) and I have speakers come in for others. I was extremely blessed to have the Dental AR Ninja, Mr. Andy Cleveland himself speak a few months ago. I am honored to be part of this wonderful dental community in Hickory, NC and I am passionate about helping in any way I can. I have always looked up to the original DeW’s, Linda Miles, Debra Nash, Cathy Jamison and all the other DeW’s. Encouraging and educating others, as these women have done for me, is important to me.
In January of 2018, I started “Dental Geek” and I have enjoyed working with local dentists and their teams helping with leadership, teamwork, and systems (I love systems). I had the pleasure to speak at the Western Piedmont Dental Society (our local dental society) in February 2019 on “Leadership in the Dental Office” and will be speaking again in April 2020. September 2019, I had Dental Geek’s 1st “Dental Practice Management Conference” and it was a great success and I am hoping to do it again in 2020. My heart is full when I am able to help and encourage dental practices to become the incredible teams they are meant to be.
With all this being said, I feel honored and blessed to be able to do what I do. I have a fantastic husband, son, family, friends, coworkers, and dental community that supports me. I would not be where I am without them. My goal in life is to help as many people as I can, share my love of dentistry to anyone who will listen to me, and offer support and love to the DeW’s in my community and beyond.
Arden Jolley “Dental Geek”