Th 132779


July 1, 2003
My days are CRAZY.

Mother, wife, and dental professional. What hat when?
Study clubs can be the answer ...

Roni Golden, DMD

My days are CRAZY.

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I have a home office with both our family and business lines ringing at the same time, a nursing toddler, two girls in grade school who would rather do their homework in my office than at the kitchen table, pasta boiling, and a hubby who thinks I'm the one who knows where his tennis buddy's phone number is. The fact that I can run a successful business from my home is progress ... but the mom/wife thing can really make for confusion when thrown into the mix. But in my heart of hearts I probably wouldn't have it any other way. At least not this particular day. Tomorrow may be another story.

With so much to do and only 24 hours a day to accomplish it, I think it becomes more and more important to peel ourselves away from what has become routine chaos and spend some of the commodity we seem to have the least amount of — time. And the best way to spend it is in the company of others who are in similar situations and who share the same professional goals.

Unlike the corporate world, dental professionals do not get paid to take in a meeting to learn or share ideas. Not only do we have to pay for the opportunity ourselves, it often means leaving a chair without a revenue-producing patient in it. But too often the routine of running a practice day-to-day can prove harmful as isolation and boredom may set in. Where is the balance?

When I started in dentistry 20-plus years ago, the selection of study clubs and continuing-education programs were limited and dull. As a woman, I felt very out of place in what was often a good ol' boys club atmosphere. There were no female role models because few could afford the time to attend.

Today, there is an array of choices to fit the mother/wife/dentist's need for flexibility in selecting networking and study group opportunities — nights and weekends close to home or exotic locations, large and small. There is something for everyone. With the choices comes competition by study clubs and continuing-education programs in which the female dentist can participate. Your presence is wanted ... and needed! The more varied the experience and perspectives at a table, the more meaningful it is for everyone present.

One of the best parts of being in a study group is the opportunity to network with others and develop professional friendships. Whether you are just out of dental school or have been running a multi-location office for 25 years, there is always more to learn. Mentoring a new dentist can be an invigorating experience — not only teaching her the professional and business skills she needs to achieve success, but often how to balance family and community responsibilities. Where were the mommy/dentists when I was starting? The dilemma of running a practice and figuring out how to fit in a one-week maternity leave might not have been so daunting if I had had the opportunity to meet women at a study group who had "been there, done that." One of the few bits of advice I did get was to be sure to shower and change before picking up my daughter for a hug and kiss at the end of the day. We think we're protected in our scrubs, but it's not enough.

With the so-called equality in our society, I am still amazed that it is mostly the women at my study groups who are dashing off to pick up the kids from school. To be fair, some of the men have that responsibility too, but there is as much chatter among the women about HIPPA and lasers as there is about childcare and homework.

Spend time to cultivate professional friendships. The best places to meet your peers are at continuing-education programs and study groups. Everyone has the same agenda — learning and sharing. Even though I no longer practice chairside dentistry, I continue to learn important lessons at my own study groups ... about business, personal growth, dealing with stress, and working through that delicate balance of career and family. I will admit that the stress part still needs some tweaking.

If you have any tips to share or have a question about a particular issue in your own balancing act, please send me an email at [email protected]. I'd enjoy hearing from you and sharing your ideas with readers in the months ahead.

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Roni Golden, DMDDr. Golden formerly practiced dentistry in Irvington, N.J. She is the busy mother of three daughters and the founder of the Golden Study Group. You may contact Dr. Golden by email at roni@golden or by phone at (732) 972-0325.