The Emily in Your Office

May 1, 2005
It should not be so surprising, I suppose, that we expect so much of our relationships with women.

It should not be so surprising, I suppose, that we expect so much of our relationships with women. After all, we are nurturers by nature. We fix problems, search out unrest, want to make all things right, and perhaps are prone to some difficulty maintaining that employer/employee relationship. I know that it took me many years to develop at least the minimum distance necessary for a healthy working relationship. Oh, not that I didn’t try very hard, and in the beginning it was easier (OK, OK, my sister was my assistant ... you have to get along with family!). But as time went by and as more staff came onboard and left, and new ones were hired and left, and ... well, you get the picture (our unbroken record was 17 new hires in one year) ... I realized that it wasn’t enough to be the best dentist I could be. I also had to be the best manager I could be, which, coincidentally, meant I had to be the best person I could be.

I have often thought if I could go back to dental school circa 1978 to 1982 - but this time as an instructor - I would teach a course in dentist/patient communication (my 10-plus years on the peer review and mediation committees have taught me the value of that skill), and I would also teach a course on management. Obviously, outside of dental school there were more than likely many opportunities for such education, but during our formative years as dentists-to-be I don’t remember many exposures to such topics. But this is not a good time to remind me that I will be 50 this year and possibly having a senior moment!

So, it is now that I thank Emily - wonderful, kind, thoughtful, anything-to-please Emily. You know who she is in your office. She’s the peacemaker, the one whose personality just begs to be liked, the one you want to protect. In our office, she’s the youngest, the low man on the totem pole, the last one hired. She saved us from imploding from the less-than-happy circumstances created by a previous employee. We were at critical mass, walking on eggshells, wanting to make things right but lacking the necessary dynamics to achieve our common goal. There is tremendous talent in my office, but we lacked a front-desk person who could present the professional approach our patients expect, meet the standards set by our office coordinator, deal with the inherent conflicts that come from not only two employers but two employers of the opposite sex, and inspire the outpouring of trust and support so necessary from her other colleagues. Then Emily crossed our threshold and harmony reigns again.

Emily was the one who, when she saw Woman Dentist Journal arrive in the mail, put it on my desk with a sticky note stating, “When will you be on the cover?” Such faith, such trust. Who couldn’t be inspired to do more and be more with that kind of comment from someone so new to the office .. someone not even remotely a relative?

As I said in my first column, it is truly the little things women do for women that can make a difference. If you have been inspired by an Emily in your office, feel free to send an email to Woman Dentist Journal, but better yet, lend your thoughts and wisdom to this magazine. It is your forum, and it is in its formative years.

Add your thoughts to my Idle Thoughts. You are guaranteed to make a difference to someone.

Sharon Szeszycki, DDS
Dr. Szeszycki is a graduate of the dental hygiene program at Southern Illinois University, a BS graduate of the dental hygiene program at Loyola University, and a graduate of the Loyola University School of Dentistry. She has been actively involved for more than 10 years with the Mediation and Peer Review Committees of the Chicago Dental Society. A full-time co-partner in a general dentistry practice in Lombard, Ill., she may be contacted at [email protected].