Join DPR in celebrating the top 25 women making a huge impact on dental practices and the dental industry in 2013.
Join DPR in celebrating the top 25 women making a huge impact on dental practices and the dental industry in 2013.
Somewhere along your professional trajectory, you’ve encountered a colleague or a professor or someone who was -in a word -exceptional. Statistics suggest that, more and more, that person will be a woman. According to the American Dental Association, since 2001, the total market of active licensed women dentists has gone from 26,870 to 47,814 - a 43.8% increase. By the end of 2011, 29,055 women were members of the ADA. These numbers don’t take into account the ladies making their mark as dedicated team members, dental lab technicians, sales representatives, or product managers, educators and dedicated team members.
Now in its fourth year, the Top 25 Women in Dentistry feature is one way Dental Products Report seeks to recognize not just the power of the contributions women are able to make, but also the richness of diversity in the ways they choose to make a difference.
This spring, we received hundreds of nominations. Winners were chosen based on the number of people who nominated them, the quality of those nominations, and the ability to demonstrate a clear contribution to the dental community.
We hope the stories told here, with a focus on mentorship and the balance between aspiration and accessibility, motivate you to either become an outstanding woman in dentistry, or to recognize the outstanding women you work with each day.
Dr. Anissa Holmes - Dentist
A career should be more than just a job, it should be something that you love to do, and Dr. Anissa Holmes is a shining example of love for her work. Dr. Holmes has been working as a cosmetic and family dentist for 14 years, and for the last eight years she has been practicing in Jamaica.
Dr. Holmes always wanted to be a doctor, but was introduced to dentistry through a mentoring program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Today, she enjoys sharing her story with the youth of Jamaica to show them that through determination and perseverance you can reach any goal you set for yourself.
“The best part of my job is that I get to do what I love,” Dr. Holmes said. “I have a very supportive team and patients who are very appreciative of the services that we offer. Upon moving to Jamaica, I made a commitment to continue the high standards set while practicing in the Unites States, including the use of technology and cutting edge dental services.”
“Especially living in Jamaica, I feel a very big social responsibility,” she said. “We visit basic and primary schools several times a year to encourage the children to always do their best, as well as to teach them about oral health. We also give away a smile makeover every year to someone who has great need but cannot afford treatment.”
Her office has held several “Dentist Days” where funds collected from services done on that day have been used to buy computers and build a playground at a local school, as well as to contribute to “Crayons Count” to provide learning kits to all of Jamaica’s basic schools. Her office has also adopted a children’s home to provide toys and other necessities for the children there.
“When I first moved to Jamaica, I worked in an office with a dentist who has practiced for over 30 years,” she said.” I noticed that he would go in on Christmas if he needed to see patients. When asked why he simply stated that they needed him. It would not make a difference to make a small sacrifice for someone if they really needed him. He was so right. I have gone to see patients who really needed me on holidays and on hours when the office was ‘closed.’ The patients appreciated it, and I am genuinely happy to be able to do it.”
Dr. Holmes attributes many of her core values to her upbringing and her parents’ encouragement. Growing up she was told she could be anything, and that the only limits she had were those she imposed upon herself.
“My father always said, if you treat people well, everyone would be happy. He also said to always appreciate those who work with you because it goes a long way. My parents sacrificed a lot to give me my education, and always told me that if I believed that I could do something, I would.”
Jennifer Fullem, Office Manager
In most practices, the dental office manager is the face of the business and the first impression a patient has. So, as the first person patients interact with when they enter the office and the last person they see when they leave, Jennifer Fullem makes it her personal duty to ensure all the patients in her office know their smile is the staff’s top priority.
The role and responsibilities of an office manager are integral to the everyday workings of a successful dental office-without them the dental environment would be a chaotic unorganized mess of paperwork, patients and uncoordinated schedules. Thankfully, Fullem’s staff is safe in her diligent and reliable hands.
“Even though I am not directly involved with clinical patient care, I make it a priority to educate myself on what is happening in the world of dentistry and the ever changing technologies that are available, to ensure the quality of service that sets our dental office apart,” she said. “I am skillful in simplifying and explaining complex treatment plans to patients; this allows patients to make an informed decision, which allows them to complete their dentistry at a pace that is comfortable for them and appropriate to their needs.”
Fullem loves interacting with the patients and staff in her office because it engages her sense of purpose and brings her joy she would otherwise do without. In her own words, seeing happy and fulfilled patients and staff is what makes her job worthwhile. But a position with so many daily responsibilities is hardly easy, even for the seasoned multi-tasker.
“I am constantly being pulled in many directions to help patients, staff, dentists and insurance companies with questions or concerns,” she said. “These challenges, however, make my position rewarding and give me an arena to add value and showcase my skills.”
She attributes her success to the initiative or “moxie” she took upon herself at a young age. To her, growing up and representing herself assertively and unabashedly took courage and drive, traits instilled in her by her father. Later in life, with the help and support of family and friends, she achieved success through motivation, dedication and a strong will.
“My family is truly my inspiration for everything that I do in life. I strive to make them proud each and every day,” Fullem said. “They provide me with motivation and inspiration and I cannot be sure I would be at all successful without them.”
As a woman, Fullem considers herself lucky to have had the opportunity to work alongside several strong, intelligent and ambitious women. She is constantly motivated by the expertise she has witnessed them exercise and she is grateful for the multitude of opportunities they have presented to her.
“I have found inspiration in their approach to quality dentistry while maintaining fulfilling relationships and a successful practice,” she said.
In some ways, Fullem found success happenstance, and as someone who didn’t start out with a taste for dentistry, she has made a niche for herself as well as the knowledge and skills she’s acquired along the way.
“Dentistry provides a place for women in the workplace to be on equal footing with men, while giving them the flexibility to raise children and have a family,” she said.
BobbieJo Redmon, Dental Assistant
When BobbieJo Redmon’s aunt was studying to become a dental assistant, Redmon got her first taste of the dental industry, and it’s been entwined in her life ever since. Since that young age Redmon has worked her way up from part-time receptionist to clinical supervisor over all of the dental assistants and the hygiene team in her office.
“I am very focused on making sure the patients have the best possible experience while they are in the office,” she said. “I love the challenge of working in a growing practice with 18 operatories, advanced technology and an innovative working environment.”
Redmon has been working with the same dentist, Dr. Richard Steinberg, for more than 12 years and she considers him the biggest influence in her career. The drive, determination, vision and chairside manner he has with every patient inspires her to be her best and to grow with the practice.
“I look up to Dr. Steinberg as a role model, because of his passion for his patients and dentistry,” she said. “As he has been practicing for 31 years, he still continues to better himself. It encourages me to better myself at work and as a person.”
Without Dr. Steinberg and his partner, Dr. Daniel Delrose, helping her with their encouragement and the opportunities they have provided she wouldn’t have had the push she needed to get to the next level of her career.
“The passion and drive that I have for the office that I’m working in, as if it were my own, has gotten me to where I am today,” she said. “The values, vision and knowledge that Dr. Steinberg and Dr. Delrose have instilled in me have made me who I am today.”
Personal development is very important to Redmon, who said dentistry is constantly changing and if you don’t focus on self-improvement you will never grow as a person or in your career.
Today, Redmon is focusing on balancing the many demands of her job while maintaining a positive patient experience. Her office staff of 30 regularly sees 120 patients daily, and keeping focus on the needs of the patients as well as the staff can be both challenging and rewarding. She has achieved success in her career because she is passionate about making a difference in the lives of her patients, their dental health, cosmetic appearance and ultimately improving their self-esteem.
“I enjoy turning the patients around who come in completely afraid, unhappy with their smile and when they leave the office they just can’t quit smiling because they are so happy with the results,” Redmon said. “Most of the patients in the practice know me by name, which makes me feel that I have more ‘friends’ than ‘patients.’ I enjoy the personal relationships that I have formed with them.”
Dr. Janet Harrison, Chair of the Dept. of Restorative Dentistry - University of Tennessee
To some educators, teaching is simply a job, but for Janet Harrison it is a rewarding and fulfilling passion. Harrison is the Chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry in Memphis, Tenn., where she teaches the basics of operative dentistry. Each successful student she teaches bolsters her love of teaching. For many of those students her class is their first experience in the dental lab until they graduate, and she takes pride in her ability to expose her students to a different side of dentistry and to watch them grow as dentists throughout the process.
“The best part of my job is working with a dental student, whether in pre-clinic or clinic, and seeing them light up when a concept is understood and implemented,” she said. “That means that you have helped someone think through and understand the basics of dentistry in order to help their patients.”
Her interest in dentistry started at a young age thanks to frequent visits to her local dentist to have restorations done. Then, in her senior year of dental school, Dr. Fred Simmons encouraged her to try teaching in addition to private practice and offered her a position in his department. She took the position and has been thankful for the opportunity ever since.
Dr. Harrison believes networking inside the dental world can open a lot of unexpected doors. In her journey she has had many mentors and friends who have had a big influence on her, but a few specific women stand out among the crowd. The first is Dr. Patricia Blanton, who is a leader in organized dentistry, a private practice periodontist and a dental educator.
“She has succeeded in every aspect of dentistry and has been instrumental in encouraging my participation in many areas of leadership,” Dr. Harrison said. “She is always willing to give a hand to those dentists who are new to organized dentistry.”
Dr. Harrison also recognizes and appreciates two colleagues of hers, Dr. Jane Casada and Dr. Leslie Roeder, who have helped to support and encourage her on her path to success.
“The three of us have ‘girlfriend’ trips every year and share advice, support, suggestions and just fun. These ladies have been my inspiration,” she said.
The key to success, Dr. Harrison said, is finding what it is you enjoy doing most in the everyday part of your career, what it is that makes you smile, and trying to do that as often as possible. She treats each experience and relationship she has as a catalyst for inspiration and she makes sure to appreciate every person in her life for the things they can teach her as well as their potential to learn.
“It has been a true joy to meet and work with all the very fine faculty, students, staff and patients at the dental school,” she said. “I have learned a great deal from all of them and they all make the job so much better.”
Collen Kelleher-Sorrentino, CFA
To many dentists, a financial counselor is an important ally when working to maintain a successful business, invest their money and plan for their retirement, but to her clients, Colleen Kelleher-Sorrentino is an invaluable asset.
As a dental financial advisor Kelleher-Sorrentino helps her clients attain their financial goals. She works closely with individuals, endowments, institutions and families to understand their risk tolerance and return requirements. Every client receives an in-depth analysis of their investment holdings, cash flow and overall financial picture to develop a plan specific for them. Through this analysis, her hard work, extensive knowledge and skills she has become an important facet of the dental industry.
“I enjoy working with clients and getting to know them and their families,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy seeing my clients reach their goals. I would say it is the relationships that I have with my clients that is the most rewarding.”
When it comes to dental financial counseling she is most motivated by her husband, Robert, who is a periodontist. He pushes her to work hard to achieve her goals while supporting her and encouraging her to keep moving forward. Her family is also a source of inspiration.
Education also has been the key to her success. She attended the Stern School of Business at NYU where she received her MBA, and then went on to get her CFA. She knows that without this schooling she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“I have a passion for what I do and I can’t think of anything else I would be doing,” she said. “I love managing money and I was brought up in a Wall Street home, so money management is in my blood. I wake up every morning skipping to work because I think I have the best job in the world.”
But with a constantly changing economical climate her job isn’t always easy. Managing client expectations can be a challenge because each person wants market returns with little risk. She faces those challenges head on by counseling clients on regularly.
“Managing greed and fear can be very difficult, but it takes a seasoned professional to navigate uncertain markets,” she said.
In her journey, she has learned many valuable things, but none so valuable as the lesson that you have to make the most of every day and work hard to achieve your goals. The most important advice she’s ever received is a quote by Warren Buffet, who said, “There are two rules to making money, the first rule is to not lose your money and the seconds rule is not to forget the first.”
It may sound simple, but doing just that for her clients is what keeps them happy and satisfied.
Dawn Christodoulou, President/Owner - XLDent
As the president and owner of PEB XLDent, Dawn Christodoulou is most proud of the synergy she has been able to foster within the company she and her family have grown from humble beginnings.
“Everyone at XLDent is XLDent, regardless of what the job or job responsibility is, everyone here has the same vested interest, to help our clients be successful,” she said. “That’s what I love about this team, no one is afraid to wear a different hat. Everyone does what it takes to get the job done.”
PEB, which started out as a service bureau providing patient-billing solutions for dental offices, is now under its second generation of management from Christodoulou’s family. Today PEB XLDent is in the rapidly growing industry of software development. More specifically, the company develops practice and clinical management software, and is the only dental software developer that offers a complete suite designed for mobile, tablet PCs.
As the owner of the company, Dawn Christodoulou is involved in every aspect of the company’s business and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty or to contribute a little of her own elbow grease, especially if it helps her team stay productive and successful.
“I have no boundaries when it comes to solving problems and getting things done. The team sees me working right beside them,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the job is, from building maintenance to development. If the job needs to get done, it gets done.”
But filling a need in a rapidly changing market can be a challenge, and with technology growing and shifting at rocket-speed the task of keeping up is a huge undertaking. Christodoulou devotes much of her time and energy to staying one step ahead of both the technology and her competitors.
“The speed at which technology changes requires us to learn more, adapt quicker and change more frequently all of the time,” she said. “Sometimes we are keeping pace with new advancements more quickly than our customer base is ready for, so trying to continually offer new things when adoption is slow can be difficult.”
Finding success has been a learning experience for Christodoulou, and the biggest part of that lesson was finding her own boundaries and learning how, where and when she could push them and when things just weren’t in her skill set. To other people looking to follow a similar career path this sounds like a negative experience, but it has allowed Christodoulou the time she needs to focus and succeed at the things she’s inherently good at.
Throughout her career her diligent, industrious and passionate parents have constantly inspired her.
“Both of my parents worked very hard to build the family business and watching them achieve success instilled a very strong work ethic in me,” she said. “In addition, they provided me with an opportunity to contribute and pushed me to do the very best job that I could.”
The most useful advice she’s received in her journey came from her father, who told her “There is a solution to every problem. Find it.” And Christodoulou works every day to do just that.
Adrienne Collins, Senior Product Manager - Pentron
Throughout her journey to Senior Product Manager at Pentron, the most important lesson Adrienne Collins learned was that being passionate will open doors and translate into many opportunities. Having been with Pentron for more than 13 years, Collins considers herself lucky to have managed a large portfolio of products in several restorative categories.
“My tenure in the dental industry, and my various roles, has provided me the opportunity to see the dental industry evolve, and appreciate how the products have advanced,” Collins said.
Through her communication skills and personal drive, Collins has formed many strong relationships with industry professionals and she attributes much of her success to her ability to embrace change and complexity.
“Change is about accepting the evolution of business, and the realization that you need to be as adaptable and agile as the market you are serving,” she said. “Complexity is about sorting through the various components of business and looking for a pattern that may not have a straight-line solution.”
To Collins, being a strong and confident woman is important, and she feels that those attributes were instilled in her from a very young age. She looks up to both of her grandmothers, two strong willed women with ambition and drive who felt that imparting those values in their granddaughter would help set her on a path to success. Collins took those ideas and put them to work in her own life, allowing her to achieve what she has today.
“I am fortunate to work for leaders who provide constructive coaching, who encourage me to take risks in my career and stretch to reach my true potential,” she said of her personal growth and motivation.
Though Collins enjoys every aspect of her position, the range and variety of what she does everyday is what keeps her moving forward.
“The best part of my job is the diversity of what I am asked to do each day to meet customer needs,” she said. “In that, there is a need to manage my interactions with so many people in order to fulfill these diverse responsibilities. I get to constantly interact with so many incredible professionals, both internally and externally. I consider myself lucky to be able to work with so many wonderful people from all over the world.”
To Collins, keeping the basics in mind is important to the success of a career as well as any business.
“The advice I received from my mom was very simple, yet elegant, and was received quite some time ago: always say thank you.”
And she does, through hand written notes to Pentron customers courtesy of herself, her sales staff and product managers. Collins feels this personal touch is key to showing her clients that their time, patronage and loyalty is not only noticed but valued highly with the company.
“Everyone deserves to know that they are appreciated for all the hard work they do, and that they are part of a much bigger picture,” she said.
Ellen Bostock, CDT
As a certified dental laboratory technician, dental laboratory instructor at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Va., and an entrepreneur with her company, Dental Prosthetics Identification (DPid), Ellen Bostock is as multi-faceted as she is talented. To a less coordinated individual balancing all of those roles would be next to impossible, but Bostock has found the perfect equilibrium in her roles by using the skills she’s learned from each position together in harmony. The result is a successful career that she loves with a fierce passion.
“As a CDT it is the satisfaction of working with a dentist in creating an appliance that improves the quality of life for the patient,” she said. “When I’m teaching the best part is watching the student’s face light up when they really grasp the concept of what just moments before wasn’t making sense to them, no matter how many ways you tried to explain it. When that realization happens the student’s confidence increases so the next level of learning can take place. From the business side, it is seeing my original idea of providing a system that would help dental laboratories become more efficient and productive grow into a viable solution to help meet a number of state and federal regulations.”
Her father, Dr. Matthew J. Klena, first sparked her passion for dentistry through his practice and in-house dental lab. But the road wasn’t clear or free of hurdles to jump. Bostock first graduated college with a degree in interior design, but after starting a family she longed for a schedule and career that allowed her more time to spend with her children. She began working with a technician in her father’s practice and soon found herself pouring and trimming models.
“Having an artistic side I soon realized that what I was doing was actually creating a unique piece of art or in this case a denture that would be put on display every day by the patient,” she said. “It’s really quite gratifying knowing that what you do allows a person to smile and feel better about their self-image.”
Bostock went back to school and received her Associate’s Degree in Dental Technology. She spent the next chapter of her life honing her skills as a CDT as well as taking on new opportunities like teaching. In 2011, she and her family moved to Richmond, Va., where she continued teaching. Then, in March she launched DPid with the help of her husband.
“As cliché as it sounds, I have always believed that if you do something you enjoy, it’s not really work,” she said. “I’ve always had the passion and desire to learn as much as I can about dental technology.”
And Bostock’s hunger for knowledge has been a huge factor that has driven her to success. As an avid learner, she is always working to expand her knowledge of the industry as well as her patients’ needs, and it shows in her work.
“Knowledge provides mobility and opens many doors, but if you think about it knowledge also allows you to build a door and open it yourself.”
Jo-Anne Jones, RDH
As a passionate dental professional who is committed to raising awareness about oral cancer, Jo-Anne Jones and her company, RDH Connection, have been educating the dental community since its establishment in 2008. She is proud to have developed professional education programs for companies like 3M ESPE, Philips Oral Healthcare and Wrigley’s (UK) and was awarded “The Most Important Dental Story Published in 2012” for her piece on a family member’s battle with oral cancer. With a resume that reads like hers, she’s becoming a businesswoman, motivational speaker and educator to keep on the radar.
“My strength is what I know best; that the collective team effort is at the heart of every successful dental practice,” she said. “The overall focus of my day-to-day efforts is bridging the gap between education and clinical practice.”
The part of her work she enjoys the most is the gratification of knowing she has been able to assist dental professionals with the day to day challenges and opportunities that are so common to the profession.
“Making a difference in people’s lives is the main passion and motivator of all I do,” Jones said.
Initially her interest in the subject of oral cancer was related to researching the cancer and finding the best ways to identify the illness at an earlier stage. Her research revealed that the emergence of HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer was escalating by 225 percent while the incidence of oral cancer caused by smoking and alcohol was on the decline by 50 percent. Then, a close cousin of hers was diagnosed with HPV-16 oropharyngeal cancer on September 26, 2011, just days before she was to deliver a presentation on her research to the National Dental Hygiene Association at the Annual General Meeting.
Unfortunately, Jones’ cousin lost her fight against the cancer on December 6, 2012, but Jones continues to dedicate her life and work to the education and early detection of HPV-related oral cancer.
“Since I’ve been delivering this message I have had countless emails as well as colleagues coming up to me at conferences and lectures recounting stories of earlier discovery of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions through more thorough examination techniques. This is rewarding beyond words,” she said.
Her journey has not been one without challenges, but she’s taken every hardship in stride because she considers even the most difficult trials to be an opportunity to learn, to teach or a little bit of both. On a professional level, whether it’s the challenge of the fast paced and ever changing technology present in the dental community or maintaining balance between her personal and professional life she is confident in her skills and she invests a lot of faith in what her gut tells her is important.
“When you love what you do it is easy to be pulled into it continuously,” she said of her work-life equilibrium. “Your body has a wonderful defense mechanism that is a strong reminder when life is not in balance. We need to listen to this inner voice.”
Jones is a strong believer in the philosophy, the harder you work the luckier you seem to get. And though many of her experiences and hardships have been less than lucky, she’s taken each experience and made it a learning opportunity and the strength and determination it’s taken to do so is more than admirable.
Dr. Judith Belitz, Dentist
As a second generation general family practice dentist, Dr. Judith Belitz is proud to have learned every facet of dentistry and worked alongside her father since she was 7 years old.
Dr. Belitz is considered an inspiration to several of her colleagues, both past and present. As a believer in the importance of being involved in the dental community she served as the president of the executive board at the American Association of Women Dentists. As a life long student, she recently achieved Master of the Academy of General Dentistry and she enjoys teaching new ideas and techniques.
“I feel that it is very important to be involved in organizations such as AAWD or AGD and small study clubs to create a network of professionals that you can ask questions, be supportive, and continue learning,” she said. “These groups are filled with people who can become mentors and to whom one can mentor.”
When it comes to her own mentors, she recognizes her father as the person who pushed her to become the successful dentist she is today. Dentistry is in her blood, and she knows the business of a dentist’s office from top to bottom.
“The No. 1 thing that has gotten me where I am today is a very supportive family,” she said. “My dad set very high standards in his pursuit of excellent dentistry, and I strive daily to model my practice to what he taught me.”
Her first job was filing, sending statements and cleaning operatories at her father’s practice. She then progressed to assisting and learning front desk responsibilities, and because her father did much of his own lab work, she was able to observe that side of the industry.
“My parents instilled in each of us that education was very important. No one can ever take that away from you,” she said.
The best advice she has for young women looking to run their own practice is to take business classes.
“Dental schools teach the technical aspects of dentistry well, however, once you are in charge of your own practice you must be able to incorporate business skills as well,” she said.
She also encourages young women to take hands-on CE courses. Dentistry is always evolving and dentists have a responsibility to be aware of new technology and to incorporate new skills and procedures into their practices.
She urges anyone new to dental to help those less fortunate through a volunteer program such as AAWD’s Smiles for Success. “The No. 1 thing I’ve learned is by choosing a vocation that you can help people, you can gain great inner satisfaction,” she said.
Sarah Anders, Vice President - Ivoclar Vivadent North America
Ivoclar Vivadent North America is a leading provider of materials and processes for quality dentistry, and as the Vice President, Sarah Anders oversees the sales and operations for the Canadian business and sits on the executive team for the U.S. organization. She is proud to be in a role that allows her to work with such a dynamic team of professionals to develop and introduce products and strategies that help dental professionals provide better patient care.
“I am fortunate to work with a passionate and dedicated team that truly cares about better dentistry and better patient care,” she said. “The network of distributor partners, dentists, denturists and laboratory customers that I am privileged to work with is second to none. At the end of the day good people who are passionate about what they do can make a positive impact on any project.”
Working in a constantly changing industry means staying ahead of market trends, and for Anders this is the most challenging aspect of her job. She considers her fast paced work environment inspiring and energizing thanks to its constant innovation. But success isn’t stagnant, and to attain and keep it one has to perform constant self-maintenance.
“On this journey I have worked to be open to new ideas, seek new knowledge and interact with new people,” she said. “This openness and broad knowledge of the dental market and industry personnel has allowed me to identify and uncover new projects, market initiatives and opportunities for personal and professional growth.”
Her colleagues at Ivoclar Vivadent and their passion for their customers regularly inspire Anders. When she joined the team she had limited experience on the laboratory side but CEO Bob Ganley and retired Vice President of Sales Pat Segnere inspired her to deeply engage with key customers and establish long term business relationships.
“I have been blessed to work with some incredible talent throughout my career,” she said. “I have witnessed dental professionals restore patients’ smiles and change their lives. This puts into perspective the work that we do and the benefits our products can provide. I have worked with dynamic professionals that push you to set the bar higher professionally and personally.”
Betty Jonson, Field Sales Consultant - Henry Schein Dental
As a Field Sales Consultant for Henry Schein, Betty Jonson has a passion for helping dental professionals focus on business solutions vital in today’s economy. Because she considers herself a member of their staff, her personal goal is to do everything possible to support and help her clients achieve a higher level of efficiency, productivity and success.
“I have been privileged to enjoy amazing relationships with my clients over my 28 years in dental sales,” she said. “After all these years, I still wake up on Mondays excited to begin my week.”
She truly enjoys assisting the dentists who serve as her clientele and helping them create their vision through a variety of tools that allow each dentist to enhance and improve their patient care, thus allowing them to run a successful practice with happy and healthy patients.
“Everyone has a different dream or goal; it could be a young dentist opening their first office or a current dentist that’s designing a new office who desires the latest innovative technology for their practice,” Jonson said. “Throughout these various processes with my clients, I get excited about introducing new technologies to them.”
Although she immensely enjoys her work, Jonson has found the perfect equation for a work-life balance can be illusive and challenging, and this is one challenge she shares with many other dental professionals, both males and females alike.
“I have always made myself available 24 hours a day to my clients while I maintained a family at the same time,” she said. “I have two beautiful daughters, Aimee and Alexa, and they are my proudest accomplishment. My family has always come first. It has been challenging at times, however so rewarding.”
When Jonson started her career with Henry Schein in 1994, a field sales force was a new concept to the telemarketing-based dental distributor. She considered it an exciting time because many manufacture representatives thought her unorthodox at best, sometimes even crazy. But her determination and drive proved worth the struggle against doubt. She chose to believe in her vision and to follow her instincts and she has never regretted that decision.
“I have always loved challenges. I have always had the ability to dust myself off and move forward,” she said. “I lost my younger brother in an auto accident and my father to cancer within 11 months. That was a life defining moment when I realized life is too short to dwell on the small stuff. Happiness is a choice.”
To Jonson, taking risks is important when it comes to finding success. She believes that every problem is an opportunity, and as long as you have passion and love for what you do the road to success will be paved with new experiences and opportunities to learn important lessons.
“Having confidence in yourself and your abilities is essential in becoming successful. Be different, take chances, and make mistakes. That is how you grow,” she said. “Success is not always about perfection. Put all your attention and energy on what you want to happen and visualize yourself being successful and it will happen.”
Julie Suh, Vice President of Operations - Bisco Inc.
Julie Suh was invested in Bisco Inc. for a long time before she became the Vice President of Operations-some could go as far as to say that it runs in her blood.
Suh’s father, Dr. Byoung Suh, is the founder and president of the privately-owned dental products company. Julie Suh served as the Director of Business Operations for 10 years before her promotion to VP.“When people would ask me what I did at Bisco (as Director of Business Operations), I would answer that I make sure that our business processes are working, that our departments get along, and that our employees are happy,” she said. “The same holds true in my new role. I have a great team of directors that run our day-to-day operations, which allows me to focus on the big picture, things like strategic and organizational planning, and to help resolve business issues as they arise.”
Suh loves the variety and challenges her position offers on a daily basis. Working for a smaller organization allows employees to wear different hats, she said, because everything that needs done isn’t always clearly assigned to someone, so those ambiguous assignments often end up on her desk or under her supervision.
“During my years at Bisco, I’ve done a little bit of everything,” she said. “I’ve acted as Interim Director of Marketing and Sales and as Interim Director of Quality & Regulatory Affairs. I’ve sold Bisco products at tradeshows, where I learned the value of comfortable shoes and attended several IADR meetings.”
She shared a special story that involved running around Brisbane, Australia, to find a replacement part for a piece of equipment Bisco was demonstrating for a group from a Japanese university.
“I am proud to say that I eventually got the Acuvol to work!” she said. “All of these eclectic experiences have given me an appreciation for the variety of talents and efforts required by all of our employees to make Bisco the great company that it is.”
But her title comes with its own set of challenges. As a conservative and traditional workplace she has to ensure the company is as cost-effective as possible. But most importantly she believes a truly successful workplace hinges heavily on the leadership team.
“We have department leaders that can express appreciation for a job well done, create a good work environment, and direct meaningful projects with tangible results that are shared with those involved,” Suh said.
Suh believes being competent and confident at work will likely lead to confidence in the rest of your life’s pursuits. That is how she leads her personal life as well as her work life, and her confidence and talent have brought her the success she’s been striving for.
Karen Raposa, Clinical Education Manager - Hu-Friedy
Karen Raposa isn’t simply the Clinical Education Manager for Hu-Friedy’s northeast territory, she considers herself to be an inspirational and motivational speaker, an educator, an author, and sales consultant as well, and this multi-faceted career path is how she’s found so much success in her profession.
“I feel strongly that in order to drive dental professionals to make positive changes as clinicians, they must be motivated and inspired,” she said. “Looking at words on a page or watching a clinical procedure alone does not drive change, but motivating and inspiring someone to do better or to help someone else is a more effective way of getting a dental professional to make positive changes in their own careers, including how they practice clinically.”
Raposa has held a variety of positions in her career and she has worked with several dental consultants, and her passion for inspiring and motivating dental professionals was born from her own personal and professional experiences.
“I feel the best part of my job comes when I hear a dental professional tell me that what I recommended has changed the way they perform dentistry and that they have been inspired to want to be a better clinician,” she said.
Whether it’s a new dental instrument, new dental technology or a new way of helping a disabled patient, she loves her job because she knows she has the ability to help practitioners improve the life and health of their patients. Her passion for her work is derived from two very important experiences she’s had, the first being the memories she has of her visits to the dentist as a child, and the second being that her youngest child was diagnosed with autism 11 years ago.
“Since that time, the way I see the world broadly and even specific to dentistry has changed forever,” she said. “I have more empathy, compassion and am much less judgmental than I would have been had he not been born to me.”
Today, Raposa works to help dental professionals understand that what they do for others can have more of an impact on the lives of their patients than they might ever have dreamed it would. She finds that sharing these experiences with the people she works with helps them to take her advice because they’re hearing it first hand.
“I have been told so often that what I share about people with autism applies to so many typical people and that we as dental professionals can be better able to provide quality care for all patients by remembering we are all fragile to some extent and we all need a little extra TLC during a dental visit, even if we have never been diagnosed with a developmental disorder,” she said.
She believes her passion for her work is what has most helped her find success. She feels that what she does everyday is a labor of love, and she is inspired by the love she has for her family and their support of her in return.
“I work hard and have passion for what I do so that my family will be able to enjoy life and so that others like my son Tommy will be able to have proper and compassionate dental care and be able to enjoy life-long dental health like so many of us may take for granted.”
Marilin Posca, Lab Tech
In 2000 Marilin Posca partnered with her brother to create TCS Inc. Their goal was to offer a flexible material for removable partial dentures and all the equipment and accessories needed for the process. At first the business growth and success was slow, but as time went on the company grew and gained momentum as the demand for high quality, removable thermoplastics grew. At the time very few companies were offering the high quality product necessary to meet the demand, and that’s when Marilin’s company found the foot up it needed.
“I knew our product was good, but having a good product was not enough. We truly care about our customers and go the extra mile to offer outstanding customer service,” she said.
Today, Marilin is proud to have a strong organization that has grown together as a team and worked hard to enrich the lives of their customers. She loves her job because she enjoys working with such a passionate and hard-working team of dedicated individuals who love their jobs.
“My favorite part of the job is when I hear positive feedback, when we get a compliment about our services or products, or when a TCS wearer tells us that they love their partial, that truly brings me happiness,” Marilin said.
The dental business is very close to the hearts of the Posca family. Her parents had a laboratory and she grew up learning about the business. Then when she was old enough she was able to work alongside her parents learning laboratory procedures. Her two older brothers took over the family laboratory, but her father retained a few accounts to stay busy and educate Marilin further.
When she was ready, Marilin started working for her brothers in Long Beach, Calif.
“I immediately loved the fast pace movement of the lab. Phones were ringing, drivers were coming in and out, technicians were working hard to get the work out on time,” she said. “I also took special interest in some of my father’s inventions of dental lab equipment, which finally led me into dental lab materials.”
TCS is truly a family company. Its roots lie with Marilin’s parents. Today she works alongside her sister, sharing responsibilities that allow each member of the team a balanced life within and outside of the office.
“My parents immigrated to this country before I was born. They each came from financially strong families, however, when they decided to make their lives in the U.S., they left all that behind and started off on their own,” she said.
That independent and strong spirit is what pushes Marilin to be successful and hardworking in her business and her life today.
“They taught me that things that come easy may bring us some instant gratification, but only the things that we dedicate ourselves to and work hard at will fill our lives with satisfaction.”
Dr. Og Lim, Dentist
As a third generation dentist from South Korea, Dr. Og Lim has a long list of accomplishments including a degree from Harvard Dental School. Today she owns her own group practice with 3 general dentists and 3 specialists in downtown Boston. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Dr. Lim believes in providing her patients and the members of her community with the best care possible.
Her office provides patients with all disciplines of dentistry such as diagnostic care, restorative fillings, bridges, crowns and dentures, cosmetic work, orthodontics, periodontics, implants, root canals, and oral surgery. Dr. Lim is proud to ensure her patients they are in the best hands. “The best part of my job is being able to change people’s lives on a day to day basis,” Dr. Lim said. “Whether it is my fixing of a tooth that has been causing them pain or discomfort or correcting a smile that someone has hidden for years, I love knowing that I have bettered my patients’ lives. I feel great when I see my patients looking happy and pleased after a treatment has been rendered.”
Dr. Lim set out to make her patients’ experience in her office like no other dental appointment, and that feeling begins with the atmosphere of her office. She has designed her office to have a tranquil, spa-like feel to ease the preconceived notion that going to the dentist has to be a painful and unpleasant experience. Even the magazine selection is thoughtfully planned. “I put a lot of thought and time into making things just right for my patients to feel comfortable and relaxed,” she said. The ultimate goal of this design is to erase the fear of dental treatment and to recondition those thoughts and feelings so a trip to her dental office is something her patients can enjoy and feel confident knowing their dentist has their feelings and best interests in mind.
It is very important to her that she feels satisfied with and proud of her own work at the end of the day. To become the best dentist, she believes you need to love what you do and you also need to care for your patients. She tells one thing to her junior associates, “when you make a treatment plan just think to yourself if you would do the same treatment to your own parents.” The success of her career will be that she is remembered by her patients as a great dentist who is clinically skilled and personally caring. Her grandfather, who went to Tokyo University Dental School and became one of the first dentists in Korea, and her father, who graduated from Seoul National University Dental School, were exactly the kind of dentists she has wishes to become. Their former patients still remember them fondly and with gratitude.
“Without putting much focus on production, my office has grown steadily and substantially over the past 16 years,” she said. “With my great and devoted staff I can now dedicate myself completely to my patients.” Dr. Lim finds inspiration in the example her father set for her. As a gifted and perfectionist dentist himself, Dr. Lim witnessed first hand what it took to be a truly successful dentist, so when she decided to follow the same path she took everything she saw in her father and worked to emulate those things in her career. Today, she has found both success and gratification in her professional work. Many years ago she had a chance to work on her father’s teeth. Her mother later said to her, “Your dad told me that you were working just like him,” Dr. Lim said. “That was the highest compliment that I have ever received in my life.”
Dr. Rachelle Boudreau, Dentist
All it takes for Dr. Rachelle Boudreau to have a great day is the knowledge that she helped someone become healthier by placing a beautiful restoration while enjoying friendly conversation, and as a dentist with a special interest in performing quality cosmetic dental procedures, Dr. Boudreau has a lot of great days. Her passion lies in restoring her patients’ mouths to optimum function and esthetics, which many times requires her to use several treatments on the same person.
“The best part of my job is the relationships I have with my patients, I love taking care of them and building long lasting friendships,” she said. “Everyone leaves happy at the end of the day and it does not feel like work.”
Dr. Boudreau’s roots in dentistry run deep as she grew up watching her father, an oral surgeon, work hard to find success in his own career. Today she is the head of a practice with eight operatories all running simultaneously every day. Managing her schedule can be a challenge, but Dr. Boudreau takes it all in stride making sure to stay organized and keep the lines of communication open with her team at all times.
“Seeing the hard work my father performed every day and his dedication to his patients and our family inspired me to pursue the same career path,” she said.
Most recently Dr. Boudreau was proud to have earned Accredited Member Status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and she attributes her inspiration in that endeavor to her friend, Lonnie Lee, CDT, of Knight Dental Group, and fellow AACD accredited member. Lonnie saw the potential she had years ago and he served as the motivational force that drove her to sharpen her skills.
“There were many days I felt like I could not achieve this goal but Lonnie and my mentor, Dr. Michael Sesemann, did not waiver in their faith in me,” she said. “We spent years reviewing cases and because of their relentless inspiration and education I was able to achieve my goal of accreditation. I am forever thankful to them.”
As a passionate and disciplined hard worker, Dr. Boudreau is always looking for ways to sharpen her skills and provide the best technology to her patients. And though these traits have been important ones in her journey, she said she would not have the successful practice she has today without the support and encouragement of her husband, Dr. Russ Boudreau, and her fellow team members.
“I owe them all gratitude for their greatness and believing in our vision,” she said.
Dr. Boudreau is always happy for the opportunity to learn as well as the opportunity to teach, and the most important advice she’s ever received is a lesson she lives by and shares with others whenever she can.
“You do not have to do and learn everything by yourself. Surround yourself with individuals who can inspire and influence you,” Dr. Boudreau shared. “There are so many areas we all can use advice in; we just need to be open to receiving it and then having the courage to change.”
Dr. Sabiha Bunek, Editor-In-Chief - THE DENTAL ADVISOR
As a practicing general dentist and Editor-In-Chief of THE DENTAL ADVISOR, Dr. Sabiha Bunek is proud to sit atop the precipice between the research and clinical sides of dentistry.
“Having the ability to translate research into everyday clinical practice puts me in a unique position to learn, teach and write about all aspects of dental materials and techniques,” Dr. Bunek said.
She is a self-proclaimed people person, so she naturally runs on the positive interactions she has with both patients and colleagues. She has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, which makes her work with THE DENTAL ADVISOR as appropriate as it is satisfying. She loves the ability to research and learn and to then report back to the industry.
“I love the interaction I have with my fellow colleagues through lectures, participation in various dental organizations, and sharing knowledge,” she said.
Dr. Bunek chooses to wear several different hats in her work and at home. Being a dentist, mother, wife, editor, educator, daughter, sister and friend makes for a pretty busy life, a life that takes real effort to balance, but she is constantly challenging herself to be her best.
She attributes her success to her intense curiosity about the way things work and how people think, combined with the work ethic imparted upon her by her late father.
“What keeps me here is having wonderful supportive and encouraging people in my life, especially my husband who recognizes my passion and drive for what I do,” she said. “I was raised to have a sense of pride in what I do, and to always do my best both in my work and in my relationships with others.”
As a woman and mother with a career in science, Dr. Bunek is proud of the strides she’s made in a male dominated field. She encourages any woman looking to pursue a similar path to speak her mind and share her opinion.
“We all have unique strengths and talents that we bring to the table,” she said. “Our profession is amazing because of everyone’s diverse backgrounds. If a young woman sees her differences as assets, she will have the confidence to use those assets to make a marked difference in whatever way she chooses.”
Dr. Bunek believes one cannot achieve greatness alone, a lesson first instilled in her by her father, and one that stuck with her. Her advice is simple yet complex:
“I would like to encourage any woman in our field or any other to believe in yourself, answer to yourself, and always have integrity in what you do,” she said. “Be brave and venture out to experience things that may initially be out of your comfort zone.”
Rachel Wall, RDH, BS
Rachel Wall is founder of Inspired Hygiene, a business built around a team of women who are dedicated to helping dental teams elevate the hygiene services, systems and profits within their practices, as well as a clinically active hygienist. The goal of Inspired Hygiene is to coach, mentor and train all members of a dental team to support and develop a hygiene department that delivers outstanding care to patients and contributes to the professional growth of the individual and the practice as a whole.
Wall considers herself very lucky to have the ability to work with such a strong and intelligent group of people, from her IH team to the hundreds of hygienists, dentists and administrative professionals she coaches across the country.
“It is extremely rewarding to see a hygienist who at first is nervous and unsure about implementing new protocols and systems quickly gain a renewed love of their career and be excited and inspired to present ideal treatment to their patients,” she said. “There’s nothing like that feeling.”
As her company grows and evolves Wall and her team are continually working to challenge their clinical beliefs to deepen their knowledge base, improve client care and become more calibrated as a team.
“We frequently ask our clients, program attendees and followers to get out of their comfort zone to get to the next level in their careers,” she said.
The most important factor to her success thus far is the relationships she’s developed and maintained along the way. The friendships she has nurtured throughout her journey are what she considers to have done the most to help IH grow and thrive, and she is grateful for each individual relationship with its unique experiences, lessons and opportunities.
“My faith along with the love and support of my family and IH teammates has made all the difference,” she said. “There were long weeks on the road and late nights working when my kids were babies and my mom and my husband were home and never complained once. They have allowed me to pursue a career that I truly love in an industry whose people I just adore.”
You can’t be successful if people don’t know how much you care about their cause, she said, and she believes that concept can break down walls that have been built by years of burnout, complacency, frustration and fear. She believes it is most important to understand where others are coming from because only then can they be open to how you can help them.
Mentors have been an important influence in Wall’s career, and she has had many, but she is thankful to each one for pushing her beyond her pre-conceived limits time and time again.
“They each have the same ability to believe in me more than I believe in myself while simultaneously giving me a swift kick in the rear when I need it,” she said.
And that motivation has been the right tool for her to find success as an RDH, entrepreneur and successful coach.
Shirley Harris, Executive Director - D-DENT
As the Executive Director of Dentists for the Disabled and Elderly in Need of Treatment, or D-DENT, a non-profit organization, Shirley Harris considers it both an honor and a privilege to work with more than 500 charitable dentists over the past 16 years. D-DENT was established in 1984 with the mission of providing free preventative dental education and comprehensive dental care to low-income, uninsured elderly, veterans, and the special needs population in the region.
“I can tell you from personal and professional experience that, contrary to popular belief, dentists are passionate, caring and generous doctors with the ability to improve people’s overall health and self-esteem through dentistry,” she said. “I am blessed to work with so many big-hearted, caring dentists.”
Defining her role and her job with the organization isn’t an easy task, she said, mostly because the work she does comes naturally to her so she finds it difficult to consider her work a job.
“It is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever done other than taking care of my own family,” she said. “If I had to put it in simple terms, I would say that I help provide access to dental care to those in need, and I love it.”
Most of the work at D-DENT is done over the telephone coordinating the efforts of volunteer dentists and matching eligible patients’ needs with volunteers near their area of residency but every so often Harris has the opportunity to see the doctors in action, delivering new dentures or partials, finishing restorative dental treatment and to see first hand beautiful, heartwarming smiles come to life. This is what she considers to be the best part of her job.
“I love what dentistry can do to transform a person and I love helping those in need,” she said. “This job was a match made in heaven for me. Working with like-minded doctors of oral health, leaders of other non-profit dental organizations and foundation managers with common goals is always invigorating.”
Harris became involved in dentistry when she was in high school and never strayed from that path. The passion she developed for volunteering and fundraising for the developmentally disabled eventually led her to the current position she holds.
But heading up a nonprofit organization comes with its own set of trials and challenges as well as joys. The most challenging part of her job is having to say no to someone in need or having to tell someone the funds required to help them are not available, and that they have been placed on a waiting list that can be as long as four years. Luckily, inspiration is not in short supply for Harris, but she draws the most inspiration from her children. Her two developmentally disabled daughters helped to foster her passion for volunteering to advance the opportunities open to the developmentally disabled to live healthier, more inclusive lives.
“They awoke a passion in me I didn’t know I had. I devoted my life to volunteering and fundraising, helping others live a healthier, fuller life,” she said.
Joan Austin, Co-Founder - A-dec
On June 5th, 2013 the dental community suffered a devastating loss when A-dec co-founder, Joan Austin, passed away suddenly in her sleep at the age of 81. As the largest privately owned dental equipment manufacturer in the U.S., Austin and her husband, Ken, were proud to have watched the company they founded in 1964 grow, evolve and thrive.
“Joan was the quintessential individual, a diplomat and businesswoman extraordinaire,” said Austin’s colleague, Karen Waide. “She was the cheerleader to rally a project and to make it happen.”
Austin herself was more than just an entrepreneur however; she was a sharp businesswoman, brilliant innovator, community activist and generous philanthropist. She also made herself an asset to the company as more than just a founder. She had her hands deep in the company’s personnel, administrative, philanthropic, financial, and legal operations and her passion for the company’s success showed in every task she took on.
“Joan represented herself as a professional in the true meaning both civic and globally,” Waide said. “Her successes were created by the people she worked with and was surrounded by.”
Currently, A-dec employs more than 1,000 men and women and conducts business with dental professionals across the span of 100 countries. The company also boasts a long list of innovations they pioneered as a team, many of which are currently being used in dental treatment rooms today, including dental chairs, delivery systems, and dental lights. For clinical handpieces, A-dec also partners with global companies such as W&H in Bürmoos, Austria.
“She had the ability to recognize projects that would enhance and reflect the betterment of the community locally, nationally and internationally,” Waide said.
“My career was enhanced and encouraged by the philosophies Joan set. We were both young and married, and she was the model that provided the focus for balancing work, home and a career.”
In addition to her work at A-dec, Joan had a high level of involvement in the dental community. She served as president of Austin Industries and Springbrook Properties, was a board member of the Oregon Business Council, a lifetime trustee of the Oregon State University Foundation, and served as a trustee of Linfield College for 24 years. Austin was the chair of the Board of Directors for Associated Oregon Industries, a position she thrived in as the first woman ever to serve in the role. Austin continued to be active in both the company and in the community until the time of her death.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Joan,” said Scott Parrish, Joan’s son-in-law and A-dec President and CEO. “Aside from Joan’s dedication, breadth of experience, rich insight and business acumen, it’s her enormous capacity to give that will create the greatest void.”
Joan is survived by her husband, Ken Austin, son G. Kenneth Austin (Celia), daughter Loni Parrish (Scott), and five grandchildren.
Dr. Laura Danoff, Dentist
As the owner of a dental practice and a busy mother of five, Dr. Laura Danoff is an inspiration to the countless dentists she’s worked with and mentored over her career. She motivates her staff and colleagues by leading by example and working her hardest each day at her practice. As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Dental School and a board certified Orthodontist, Dr. Danoff is always in pursuit of excellence and she pushes those around her to strive for the same.
“The best part of my job is being able to transform a patient’s appearance by changing their smile, treating rotated, crowded and proclined teeth to create a smile that is absolutely beautiful and makes the child, teenager or adult shine with confidence,” Dr. Danoff said.
Getting involved and helping others is very important to Dr. Danoff, and it shows in the programs she takes time to sponsor and participate in, like the bike-a-thon, ALYN Ride Wheels of Love, she organizes and participates in each year to raise funds for Alyn Children’s Hospital. This year, she will be honored for her participation in the Give Kids A Smile Campaign, a program that offers children of all economic backgrounds the opportunity to have dental examinations.
“When I treat a patient I am not just treating his or her smile, I am treating an entire individual,” she said.
Her resume is something to boast about because she is no slouch when it comes to being involved in the dental community. She has held roles like president of the Great Neck Dental Society for 8 years, president of Great Neck’s Dental Study Club and Diplomat of the American Board of Orthodontics.
“My love for orthodontics is definitely genetic as I am a third generation dentist,” she said. “My mother and father both inspired me. They gave me strength and taught me that I could do anything and be anyone I wanted to. They taught me the importance of love, pursuing dreams and attaining the best education possible.”
She handles each role and responsibility with ease and confidence thanks to the loving support of her family and her husband, Dr. Scott Danoff, who is a prosthodontist.
“My husband, our five beautiful children, their four spouses and our two incredible grandchildren are the most important people in my life,” she said. “I appreciate them very much and I know that without them I would not be who I am today.”
Her philosophy is, when you love what you do, you are energized, motivated, excited and want to do your very best, a lesson she learned from her father, Dr. Ernest Herman, who was also a dentist.
“It is important to continually learn, be well rounded and be the best person you can be professionally and personally,” Dr. Danoff said. “Dentistry is about building relationships, not just acquiring skills. In order to build healthy relationships, one must maintain a balanced lifestyle and strive for excellence in all components of life.”
Dr. Lori Trost, Dentist
As the founding dentist at Smiles of Distinction, Dr. Lori Trost is proud of the constantly evolving business she built in Columbia, Ill. As a dental veteran with 27 years of experience under her belt, Dr. Trost has built her practice on the ideals of answering to patients, their needs, and a dedication to providing exceptional dental care that spans from minimally invasive dentistry to placing implants.
“I am grateful to work with a positive and creative team who bring incredible energy and passion to each and every patient,” she said.
For the last 10 years of her career, Dr. Trost also has taken on the role of educator, lecturing on topics ranging from clinical dentistry to minor tooth movement and team productivity as well as knowledge of dental materials.
She loves both roles for different but equally enjoyable reasons. As a dentist, the act of meeting and exceeding her patients’ expectations for their lifelong dental health is an experience that is indescribably rewarding. As an educator, she is endlessly grateful for the ability and opportunity to continually learn, change lives, educate patients, and see her knowledge and influence translate into success for others.
“Growing up in a small town in southern Illinois, my parents and grandmother always gave me and my siblings the encouragement to believe we could enter any profession we so desired,” she said. “They instilled in us a work ethic that I continue to follow today.”
At an early age, her father, a master carpenter, inspired Dr. Trost to work with her hands, examine detail and look at situations in different ways. These lessons are what she feels set her up for success as a dentist because they gave her the tools she would need for early assessment. Though she’s learned many other lessons along her journey from a young carpenter’s daughter to a dentist and a business owner, one lesson sticks out in her mind as most important.
“Surround yourself with good people who are supportive and have your best interest in mind,” she said. “They will allow you to believe in yourself and to practice the abilities you have been taught, and more importantly, to enjoy life.”
She learned many of her business practices from observation and reflection. Her advice to any woman fresh on the dental scene is to seek out successful practices and learn to identify what makes them run smoothly, be productive, and work in harmony.
Dr. Trost believes women are able to be successful on many levels cohesively. Personally she juggles a dental practice, business and family. But at the end of the day, knowing that you have renewed a smile, gave words of encouragement, or made a difference is what truly matters. These acts of skill, kindness, and caring transcend personally and professionally.
“Integrating career and family is challenging and takes incredible energy, resilience and perseverance,” she said. “Realize that detours may show up along your journey. Do not let stereotypes discredit you. Women are more capable than ever today and can transform expectation into opportunities.”
Erin McCuller, RDH
As a 2013 dental hygiene graduate, Erin McCuller is a new and fresh face on the dental scene. However, her work as a dental hygienist shows the practiced hand and bedside manner of a professional with far more experience. Her attitude toward her work and her dedication to the education and care of her patients are just a few of the factors that have brought her success so quickly.
"I think of myself as a licensed preventative oral health professional who promotes oral wellness in the patients I encounter, and contributes to their quality of life,” she said. “The dental hygiene profession is much more than simply ‘cleaning teeth.’ ”
McCuller considers her work to be multi-faceted, and she is happy to jump into every role necessary to give her patients the highest quality level of care.
I am an educator with a responsibility to inform my patients about the importance of their oral health and how it directly relates to their overall wellbeing,” she said. “I am a researcher; each patient presents with different needs that require deeper investigation to ascertain the cause of their particular problem so that the optimal dental hygiene care plan specific to addressing their needs may be developed and delivered. I am an advocate; I promote the best course of treatment and I am my patients’ biggest cheerleader in pursuing and achieving good oral health.”
Outside of the office, McCuller is very passionate about providing compassionate, quality dental care to underserved populations. Dental missions began as an interest of hers, but she was unaware there was a need for donated dental services in her region. Once she dove into her dental education, her eyes were opened to the vast need for oral health care in her area.
“My school’s public health classes gave me an awareness and appreciation for the people I encounter in my day to day life, and a strong desire to use my acquired skills to help my community,” she said.
Every dental professional wants the best for their patients, and for McCuller finding the best route of care for every patient is the most gratifying part of her work. To her that care goes beyond the chair-she goes the extra mile to ensure her patients understand their treatment from start to finish to keep them well educated on their personal oral health and the potential it has to make or break their overall health.
“I really get excited for my patients as I see their oral health improve, not only because of what I have done clinically, but also because of the oral care instructions they are implementing at home,” she said. “I love educating my patients about proper self-care so that, during the months between their dental hygiene cleaning appointments, they can maintain and even improve their oral health.”
Though new to the profession, McCuller is a force of good, and she intends to maintain her outlook and passion for her patients in the hopes of setting an example for future hygienists.
Bete Johnson, CareCredit
As a core part of the CareCredit team for more than 14 years, Bete Johnson considers herself a connector.
Johnson was first inspired to make dentistry a career choice having experienced, at an early age, the struggles her mother faced with her own oral health. Johnson’s mother was a talented artist who had been accepted into Juilliard, but because of her oral health problems and the appearance of her smile, she became uncomfortable around people, resulting in a loss of confidence, especially in situations where she was in the spotlight.
“My mother was in dentures before I was born,” Johnson said. “When we were able, my husband and I helped my mother have her smile restored, which then restored her confidence and joy. It literally changed her life. I know from personal experience how dentists can change the lives of their patients on a daily basis. How wonderful it is to be part of such an amazing profession.”
Her passion to help others is what got her started on the journey to success, and she considers the opportunity to help and serve others the most enjoyable part of her job. In Johnson’s role at CareCredit, she is able to meet a wide variety of professionals who impact and influence dentistry and connect them with others. These new relationships can positively impact peoples’ lives and careers, bringing new thinking, new ideas and new products that help dental professionals, their teams and their patients.
“I love working with different people and I love the way they think and their creativity,” Johnson said. “I love the inspiration and I love connecting all of it for the benefit of others.”
Johnson attributes her success to having the right priorities, she said. Every day her choices and decisions are made by considering how her actions impact her family, her values, the company she works for and the people she works with.
In her life and her path to success, she considers two individuals to have had a huge and lasting influence.
“My gift in life was my father-in-law,” she said. “He relentlessly encouraged me to pursue my passions and use my talents. He was a self-made man and helped me realize that we all have opportunities in front of us; we just have to step forward with confidence and faith. Also, my mother-in-law taught me about the strength I have as a woman, a wife and a mother and how there is amazing power in silence. It’s an art, knowing when to speak and when, most importantly, to listen.”
Every day Johnson reminds herself that everyone along her path to success has something to offer and everyone matters.
“You’ll meet the same people on your way up the ladder as on your way down, so step carefully,” she said. “I’ve met people along my journey who created the path, helped me navigate the path, kept me from straying from the path and kept me focused on what’s important along the way. To them I am grateful.”