This spring at the Hinman Dental Meeting, I found myself reflecting on the many times I had attended the convention, seeing it through different eyes each time. First as a student, then as a dental professional, next an exhibitor, and this year as a speaker. This profession has given me so much joy, knowledge, and happiness at every stage of my career, and my participation in the annual Hinman Dental Meeting seems to have marked each step along the way.
The first year I went to the Hinman, I was still a student at Lanier Tech/Gainesville College. That was 20 years ago, and my main concerns back then were grades, boys, food, and finding a board patient. (Not in that order.) Things were pretty lean then, and I am not embarrassed to say that I was also concerned about how little money I had and where my next meal would come from. I was working three side jobs to pay for my car, rent, food, and tuition. Looking back, I had no clue about the size and scope of the convention, or what the Hinman really meant. I had no idea how it would develop and enhance my career and the business I would someday build.
In 1995, I started working at my first job two days a week for Dr. Steven Carter in Stone Mountain, Georgia. I was also temping, but I soon realized that dentists did not want to hire me through a temp service because of the expensive fees associated with making permanent hires through an agency. That lesson planted the first seed for my future business.
My next visit to the Hinman was as a member of Dr. Carter’s staff. I saw the Hinman through different eyes then. As a practicing Registered Dental Hygienist, I began to see how many different techniques and procedures existed – not every dentist did the same thing! There were all kinds of practices, from low to high tech and low to high volume. Next, I realized what a wide variety of philosophies were out there, such as Pankey Institute, Dawson Academy, Kois Institute, LVI, AACD, and AAED. It took me a few years to start to really grasp the big picture, and believe me, I am still learning! Experiencing and being exposed to all these avenues of learning excited me and I fell in love with dentistry even more deeply.
Then after 10 years of working in the field, I took my next step. Amidst the challenge of fertility treatments and then the birth of my twin girls, I needed more flexibility in my schedule, so I started temping again. I saw offices that were happy, profitable, and thriving, and I saw offices that were unhappy, disorganized, and struggling. There was a distinct difference between the offices that had it together and the ones that did not. After temping in over 100 offices, I realized there were three key ingredients in the recipe for a successful practice: personalities, values, and culture. I also realized how hard it was for employers and employees who were compatible in these areas to find each other. These insights led me to the next stage in my career: the creation of a user-friendly, comprehensive online job board where dental professionals could make employment connections based on more than just a resume. That’s how my business was born.
Dental Post is now 10 years old, and after exhibiting at the Hinman for several years, this year I was asked to be a speaker. At first, I was nervous – speaking at the Hinman is like the World Cup of dental speaking engagements! But as soon as I started talking about my passion for helping others in dentistry find their ideal place, my nervousness disappeared. In my presentation, I compared finding the right job or hiring the right candidate to online dating. Imagine if you could skip all those awkward first dates/interviews and find the perfect match, someone who shares your values, fits with your workplace culture, and complements the rest of your team’s personalities. I demonstrated how, by using DentalPost’s online assessment tools, dental professionals can do just that.
As I look back at what I’ve learned in the past two decades as a student, hygienist, and business-owner, I feel so humbled, grateful, and lucky to be able to share what I have learned with others. Dentistry is not just a job, but a purpose. My purpose for DentalPost has always been to help people make connections and find their ideal place in dentistry.
I know I’ve found mine.
(Special thanks to the whole DentalPost team for all their hard work this year at Hinman. Kyle Zak, COO, did a fantastic job orchestrating the whole operation along with the help of Jennifer Meeks, Tara Williams, Chris Wilkenloh, Kimberly Lanthier, Stuart O’Day, Margy Schaller, Caleb Sexton, Matthew Fears and the Vert team. Hooray! I also want to thank a few close friends; Dr. Wayne Kerr, Dr. Jonathan Dubin and Dr. David Lee.)