A "party girl" reputation isn't good for a dental professional

Dec. 12, 2013
Maintaining professionalism is important in the dental office setting

By Lisa Newburger, LISWS

Are you THE party girl? No one at work needs to know this, right? But, I was told recently that I come across as a party girl. How amusing! I don’t drink or do drugs. (Caffeine doesn’t count, right?) But, what is my image? OK, I’m goofy, flirty, and I laugh a lot. I can live with that. I’m OK with people laughing with … or at … me. (Somewhere along the way I learned if you laugh at me, you will like me.)

What about you? How do you come across?It took a long time for my manager to get up the courage to pull me aside and tell me, “Your outfits are just a bit too risque for this office.” (Really? How risque can a pair of scrubs be?) Maybe they were a little too snug, but what woman hasn’t had that experience? You gain a little weight and get those tight lines. OK, I can wear granny panties under the white scrubs.

My manager was pretty cool about it. She didn’t make me feel like an idiot. Instead she asked, “How do you think you come across?” I responded, “As a fun person.” She did agree with that, but then she said something that was painful. “You need to figure out if you want to be respected as professional.”

No one had ever told me that before. I always thought they were jealous! I’m confused. On one hand, confidence is something I have buckets of. On the other hand, why do I crave attention? Maybe I’m not as confident as I want to be. Maybe I just want to be a movie star!

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We talked about my goals and dreams. She gave me a lot to think about. Do I really want to come across as a party girl, or do I want to achieve my goals? Sometimes it’s hard to balance both. I can be “fun” on my own time, but do I want all this attention? Do I want people to feel uncomfortable around me, or talk behind my back? Well, in a way. But when I really thought about it, I realized I want to be respected. I want to be treated as a professional.

That old adage that you can only make a first impression once is very true. Why do I want people to think of me as the sexy dental assistant? Maybe I believe that playing ditzy will get me what I want. Now I just have to figure out what that is.

Your image is definitely something to think about. So, think about these two things:

1. How do you come across to your patients and colleagues?
2. Does this complement reaching your dreams and goals? If not, then it’s time to do some serious thinking!

If you’ve had a conversation with your supervisor about this issue, email me at [email protected]. Lisa Newburger LISWS, aka Diana Directive, provides humorous ways to deal with difficult topics. Check out her website at