Celebrating Women in Dentistry

Feature article from the DeW Life Magazine Summer 2020

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Angela:

Eleanor Roosevelt was credited as saying, “A woman is like a tea bag–you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water”.  It’s not hard to find famous quotes about the strength and resiliency of women. I like this one because it seems very relevant today.

Because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the vast majority of us have gone through a unique challenge, personally and professionally. Many of us found ourselves at home keeping busy with new crafts or old projects still on the to-do list, working remotely or helping kids with their online classes and homework (not to mention keeping them from saying, “I’m bored” a million times a day).

These past months it has taken a lot – a lot of strength, creativity, positivity and community (even at a social distance). But as always, there is healing, mentally and physically. When I think of all the women in dentistry I know, from the time I worked in a practice to my current role at CareCredit, I could probably share hundreds of stories on the strength and resiliency of females in dentistry.

Heather:

I agree. When we’re in situations we cannot control, it’s important to focus on what we can. For example, we responded to Coronavirus (COVID-19) with the AADOM Cares Program to provide relevant and timely resources and education to dental managers to help them through the pandemic. As part of the program, AADOM offered free membership to ensure everyone who wanted to have access to the resources was able to. This was one thing we knew we could control and the results have been amazing.  We now have more than 10,000 members who are growing, learning and sharing their experiences with one another. The stories I have heard over the past months coming from office managers across the country showed me just how powerful the dental team is in taking care of patients, their teams, their communities and themselves.

Human side

One of our members, Beverly W., shared, “It is a great time for the leaders of the practice (managers and owners) to show their teams their human side while serving in their communities. Early on, before many stay-at-home orders were initiated, we received word that our nurses and healthcare professionals did not have access to vending machines that would often be used to sustain them through the extralong shifts they were having to endure.

Something so simple as missing a “snack break” sparked an idea. We immediately dove into outreach, and with the help of our community and our patients, in just over 24 hours we were able to collect and deliver drinks and healthy snacks for 447 nurses and healthcare workers to last them just over 3 weeks!” Another member, Dana W., struggled with how to tell her team the practice was closing and that they would be laid off for an indefinite amount of time. She said, “Although I understood we had little choice, I didn’t know if my team would understand. I wiped away my tears and went inside to call the team together and deliver the news.

There were more tears from everyone.

But surprisingly, they were tears of support. As the doctor let a tear fall down his cheek, he apologized that he wasn’t able to take better care of them through this pandemic. They nodded their heads with understanding. They agreed in unison that we would all get through this and come back strong. Then the most touching thing happened: as we adjourned the meeting, one team member asked if anyone wanted to stay in the room for prayer. Everyone stayed. Everyone. I will cherish that moment forever.”

Angela:

Okay, I just teared up. Those are amazing stories and yet not really surprising at all. What’s somewhat surprising is how often we don’t take the time to recognize the strength we have or to recognize the strength and resiliency we see in others. It is so important, particularly when it’s been a tough day, to remember and focus on what we contribute personally and professionally. We tend to celebrate the big successes, but our days are really made up of a lot of small successes. A few tips here on how to take time out of the day to celebrate successes – big and small.

You have to take the time and make the effort. For example, during the morning huddles, have everyone share one small thing they did that helped someone else or made them happy. Focus on the simple things, like letting a driver in the lane ahead of you or leaving an encouraging note on your teenager’s bedroom door. When you share, it inspires others and gives the ideas they can do themselves. Or at the end of the day before everyone transitions to home life, take a moment to talk about the good things that happened, and, whenever possible, recognize people who contributed to the day’s success.

Heather:

Those are terrific tips, Angela. It’s true that each and every day the success of the dental practice, both short term and long term, is made up of a series of small wins. And those wins increase exponentially when people are recognized for their efforts and contributions. Through the American Association of Dental Office Management, I’ve heard some pretty unique ways teams recognize, reward and celebrate each other. One opportunity coming up, about which I know we are both passionate, is the second annual Office Manager Appreciation Month (OMAM) this September.

Last year our two organizations worked together to create a dedicated month where the managers are recognized and appreciated. This, of course, doesn’t diminish the contributions of all members on the team; it’s just an opportunity to celebrate the women and men who I’ve heard them self-described as “magicians” and “jugglers”. Last year was the inaugural year for OMAM and was a great success. We’re hoping that this year is even better and that we have even more doctors and teams participate.

Angela:

Yes, last year was a huge success. Having spent half of my career as a Dental Office Manager, I thoroughly understand every person on the dental team is important; but we wanted to recognize office managers because they often are the heart and soul of the team. Last year thousands of office managers were celebrated by their teams with flowers, cakes, parties and more. Also, hundreds of office managers and administrators joined AADOM. This year, the word has gotten out! We’re expecting big things in September, as additional organizations want to align with and participate in this initiative.

Heather:

As we’ve discussed, recognizing and celebrating strength and resiliency is so necessary today. You mentioned cakes, parties and flowers. And those are all good ideas. I’d like to share a few more. The team could write “love notes” to their office manager/administrator. Sharing what they love about them – such as their sense of humor or ability to handle stress. Or everyone get together after hours for an “Our-office-manager-makes patients-and-us-happy” hour. How about a “We-have an #AwesomeOM” banner or sign in the reception area so patients can get in on the fun, too. And, to participate in OMAM, doctors can go online to CareCredit.com/MyAwesomeOM to nominate their OM as an #AwesomeOM. One doctor and his or her office manager will be randomly selected to receive a scholarship to the AADOM conference in Boca Raton 2021, courtesy of CareCredit*.

Angela:

Don’t forget office managers can also post a picture of how CareCredit is displayed in their practice.  Share a best practice tip and use tag #AwesomeOM #CareCreditSweepstakes on Instagram for a chance to be one of five randomly selected winners of one FAADOM education and a one-year AADOM membership**.

For details, eligibility and official rules for both promotions, teams can visit CareCredit.com/MyAwesomeOM and AwesomeOM.dja.com. That’s a lot of good stuff – just for taking a few minutes to recognize the contribution, strength and resiliency of the practice’s Office Manager or Administrator.

Heather:

I think the point is to, again, celebrate the big wins and all the little successes that create long-term patient loyalty. Your quote about strength of women is also one of my favorites. But, so is this one by Kara Goucher: Acknowledge all of your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great.”

To Read More About Heather Colicchio go HERE

Notes:

*No purchase necessary to enter or win the CareCredit Office Manager Appreciation Month Physician Sweepstakes. Open to legal residents of the U.S. with its territories, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry and are current CareCredit-enrolled physicians as of August 31, 2020, and prize award date. Starts 10:00 AM ET on 9/1/20 and ends 8:00 PM ET on 9/30/20. For complete rules, visit www.carecredit.com/myawesomeom Sponsored by Synchrony Bank.

**No purchase necessary to enter or win the CareCredit Office Manager Appreciation Month #AwesomeOM Promotion. Open to legal residents of the U.S. with its territories, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, who are 18 years of age or older as of date of entry and are Office Managers (or a comparable position) employed by a CareCredit-enrolled dental provider as of 8/31/20 and prize award date. Starts 10:00 AM ET on 9/1/20 and ends 8:00 PM ET on 9/30/20. For complete rules, visit AwesomeOM.dja.com. Sponsored by Synchrony Bank

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Angela Martinez found her passion for the field of dentistry 28 years ago when she held a part-time high school job in the back office of a dental practice. Over the years she expanded her expertise, holding multiple roles in the dental practice including RDA, treatment coordinator and Office Manager. She used that firsthand patient experience when she left the practice environment to become a Dental Consultant and Provider Relations Manager for a dental insurance company. Then, in 2014 she joined CareCredit. At CareCredit she successfully leveraged her extensive knowledge and expertise in her role as trainer and Practice Development Manager. Angela was subsequently promoted to her current role as Vice President of Strategic Association and Dental Health Policy to lead strategic initiatives, education and relationships with national, state and local dental associations and provide sales support for CareCredit Dental Tradeshows.

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