Wow, we didn’t see that coming. We can all agree that this year has brought us extraordinary circumstances and challenges that have changed our lives forever. New normals were created and old mindsets lost. Even though you do not need to be reminded...humor me for a moment.
In 2020, a global health pandemic wreaked unexpected havoc on our communities, schools, families and industries changing the way we live, breathe and do business forever. Dentistry shut down for three months, and most offices were providing emergency care only. Dentists were suddenly told they had to stop doing what they loved. That despite the high-demand for their services, they were forced to shut their doors. That all of the blood, sweat, tears, and sleepless nights spent building and crafting their dream practice no longer mattered. How does one survive a time like this.
Because I am not a dentist, I can’t tell you how that felt or what I did to push through those months of silence in the dental profession. Good news, though: I reached out to a group of docs (truly amazing humans), and, of course, they generously gave us some real-time feedback. In addition to the hard questions, there are some fun ones to lighten the mood. Let’s take a moment to lean in and listen. Grab your coffee, chai tea, or glass of wine and take a look at a year in review by your friendly, neighborhood spider-man...I mean dentist.
What was your biggest high in 2020 and WHY?
Surprisingly this year didn’t only hold dark and scary moments, but also really beautiful ones. People fell in love and got married, startup practices were born, dental professionals found themselves recreating their business models, all while discovering untapped resiliency. Of course, don’t take my word for it…
"Getting engaged to the love of my life, Shivam Patel at the happiest place on Earth and planning our happily ever after. The road to get here wasn’t easy, but it was worth everything that led to this moment. It was everything I dreamed of and more."
Dr. Denise Cua / Perch Dentistry
"As odd as it seems, the forced time off during COVID shutdown. It helped me reset and reconnect with a lot of 'who/what is truly important' questions. It has definitely set my life and career on a different path than what I thought I wanted it to be on."
Meghna Dassani / Dassani Dentistry/Sleep. Breathe. Dream LLC
"Being able to pay my team a bonus every full month after we reopened. My entire team stayed with us through the shutdown, trusted us to keep them safe and worked harder than ever this summer."
Dr. Cliff Moore / Moore Dental at Lewis Center
"The decision for Trish and I to make the most of the pandemic time by digging in and doing everything we could to make our weaknesses our strengths. We used the time to identify areas in which the practice needed improvement and areas where we needed to improve."
Dr. Rich Constantine / Constantine Dental
What was your biggest low in 2020 and WHY?
This question could potentially be answered in one word, “COVID”. However, the “why” behind this answer is incredibly telling of what our dentists truly experienced. A few obvious lows might include: furloughing precious team members, closing the doors of your practice, kids in virtual learning at home and then opening back up to provide emergency care to patients dressed in full PPE. Those are just some of my guesses, but let’s see what they had to say…
“Having to close and tell my team that they need to take unemployment for a month. Telling my patients we were closed - seeing emergencies only for a couple months. Being scared that my practice may not survive."
Dr. Meenal Patel / Preston Dental Loft
“Putting in tremendous effort and feeling like I could never get all of the pieces together at one time. Dealing with big challenges daily and feeling like I could never take a break or turn off."
Dr. Jennifer Miller / Dentistry of Dublin
“Having no control Over the business that I have put my heart and soul into.. having someone say... “you can’t work” was a stunning moment."
Dr. Andrew Agnini / Agnini Family Dental
“Having to tell my team that I could no longer pay them and they were laid off until further notice. I am responsible for the livelihood of 5 people and could no longer provide for them."
Christina Rosenthal / Paradigm Dental Center LLC
“I received a call from the manager of the building that there was water leaking out of my practice. I walked into standing water on the floor. After all said and done, 20,000 gallons of water was evacuated and I have two insurance claims out still in process."
Dr. Brandon Prior / 100 West Dental
Tell me the biggest misperception people think about you?
These answers were kept anonymous because I am a firm believer that vulnerability is something we each define in our own way, on our own terms. I love how many of the answers address the facade that people believe we all have our crap together. If you take this answer a step further, then consider what effect this misperception can have on our ability to be honest with ourselves and others. That’s a slippery slope my friends.
“That I have my stuff (shit) together.” (4)
“That our success was handed to us.”
“That I’m smart.”
“That I’m intimidating or intense.” (2)
“That I’m unapproachable.”
“That I thrive on being around other people.”
“My resilience. That I can press through at all odds.”
“That I’m in it just for me.”
“That I don’t care about people (because I don’t express it often).”
What was the hardest thing you had to do this year and why?
Dentists are all the things. They are human, spouses, parents, leaders and business owners. While the shutdown shook up their normal, a newfound internal resilience came alive.
“Helping kids pivot to virtual learning.”
“Laying off team members and/or closing their practice.” (4)
“Startup practice during COVID.” (2)
“Family death and/or Family contracting COVID.” (2)
“Trusting in the middle of uncertainty.”
“Selling two dental practices.”
“Shifting focus to being a better business owner.”
“If something is important enough, even if odds are stacked against you, you must do still do it”
If you could inspire other people in the dental profession in one way, what would that be?
“I would say dentistry, specifically owning your own practice, is heart-breaking and so difficult at times, but also the most rewarding experience. Stick with it! Also, I would say remember 'they’re just teeth.' (A dentist friend told me that when I started and it helps me when I get stuck)."
Dr. Lora Gaxiola / Narrows Family Dentistry
“To always remember to pay it forward. We in dental have been blessed to be in a profession where we can help others via clinical skills or financially. Pay it forward to someone no matter how small!"
Dr. Temi Adesanya / 161 Dental Studio
“Empowering moms to be their best! Supporting moms in a really tough career to balance all the different hats we wear."
Dr. Grace Yum / Founder of Mommy Dentists in Business
“To be themselves and connect with people. Share your life and be open. Make the human connection."
Dr. Sarah Mertz / Sunshine Family Dentistry
“Again, resilience. Being a dentist is hard. We are unfortunately trained to forget ourselves and help withers. To always have a brace front. So please, accept that we are humans first."
Dr. Salauni Karia / Spectrum Dental
A huge “thank you” to our entire community of dentists for choosing to push through so much adversity this year, personally and professionally. You rose to the challenge and set the standards for perseverance through hardship, showing us what it truly means to serve your community while covered head to toe in PPE. Huge shout out to this group of Studio EightyEight’s fans and doctors who took the time to share their review of 2020. We’re cheering you on...always.
If you are a dentist and would like to talk to us about sharing your story sometime, so we can highlight it on social media, then please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat!