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Managing a practice takes more than a village—it takes a community

July 12, 2023
For dental office managers, a community of colleagues is a great source for encouragement, inspiration, and shared knowledge.

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” This quote from Hellen Keller speaks to the power of community. Dental office managers have a lot to manage daily. One of the best ways to grow professionally and become more effective and efficient with your practice systems, marketing, patient experience, and financial conversations is to create a community of peers and colleagues locally and across the industry who can share what’s worked for them. This shortens the learning curve for everyone, and a community is great for providing encouragement when things get tough.

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Creating a community takes focus, energy, and time—all of which may be hard to invest when you are busy doing the everyday tasks of managing a dental office. I am currently a full-time office manager and a diplomate of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), where I also serve as president of the Dental Spouse Business Network. I am the executive administrator for the Virginia Society of Periodontists, and I admin and manage several social media groups, some with upwards of 15,000 members. Yes, this is an investment of time, but the return on that investment is exponential in terms of career and life.


It’s easy to get discouraged, especially if you’re understaffed and overwhelmed. A community of people who experience the same day-to-day challenges and opportunities is the perfect place to share without judgment. It’s a great place to get encouragement and inspiration from those who have already scaled the mountains you are facing, and for you to offer encouragement to others as well.

When I am facing a challenge, my peer community is the first place I turn to for advice and support. Of course, it may be useful to find an expert, or see if Google has the answer, or look at government or state resources. All of these options may provide answers, but we get the emotional support and response we crave from our community of colleagues. No one understands what you are going through like someone who has truly been there. Sometimes all they can say is, “I don’t have the answer, but I have a hug.” That emotional support is so important. It is not something you will receive from any other source.

In just two short months it will be September; time for back to school, pumpkin spice, and Office Manager Appreciation Month, brought to the dental community by CareCredit in partnership with AADOM. The celebration is a great way to gain encouragement and get connected to a community of office managers. If your team wants to celebrate, they can check out CareCredit's free resources. Sign up to be alerted when the festivities begin!


In addition to providing encouragement, your community can inspire you with ideas, big and small. We’ve all seen movies, read books, or attended educational courses and been inspired to accomplish big things like run a marathon or get an advanced degree. But I believe the best inspiration is practical inspiration—it’s the little things you can do today to impact your practice, patients, and personal life.

My biggest source of inspiration is from ideas I get from different generations of colleagues. It is fascinating to consider how different generations, from boomers to millennials, have had success handling tasks such as scheduling and marketing. We all have the opportunity to learn from each other, and I get inspired with a new idea or an out-of-the-box thought by hearing how “it was done then” or how “it is being done now.” Having a diverse community to connect with allows practice and personal growth opportunities.


If we are seeking growth, it’s important to be life-long learners. I love learning and I read a lot! Beyond books, the community that I surround myself with is an incredible source of learning. And it’s not just my colleagues. As part of the AADOM community, I have access to online resources, classes, and peer-to-peer networking at their annual conference, also in September. Conferences and trade shows are also great learning venues. This last year I went to the Greater New York show to see what’s new as part of CareCredit’s provider community. On-site team training on effective financial conversations was one of the new opportunities for teams, and boy it was worth the time! Small, local study groups are also an ongoing resource to learn and teach.

Let’s talk about ROI again. When you invest the time in building a community where you can get encouragement, inspiration, and learning as well as best practices and practical shortcuts, I think you’ll find that the return is so rewarding—professionally and personally.

Editor's note: CareCredit is a recent financial supporter of DentistryIQ.

This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, "Synchrony"), makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accepts no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in the article are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

About the Author

Beverly Wilburn, MAADOM

Beverly Wilburn, MAADOM, is the office manager of Karl A. Smith, DDS, LLC Periodontics and Implants in Alexandria, Virginia, and Waldorf, Maryland. In addition to managing a multi-location specialty practice full time, she offers part-time comprehensive consulting services for periodontists and case acceptance and marketing services for other dental specialists and multi-specialty groups. She also consults for several dental malpractice attorneys. She is a lifetime member of AADOM, a member of three local AADOM chapters in the Washington, DC, metro area, and serves as the executive administrator for the Virginia Society of Periodontists.