Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2015 06 Leadlikeagirl 1

What this dentist learned at #LeadLikeaGirl women's leadership experience

June 18, 2015
The leadership conference #LeadLikeaGirl taught Dr. Swati Malhotra and her peers how to become strong leaders in the dental field, as women are now half of current dental school enrollment. She shares some of what she learned here.
Times are changing in the dental industry, from new and advanced care models to innovative technologies. Yet the biggest and most drastic change now taking place is who practices dentistry. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), in 1980 only 3% of all dentists were women. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 27%. Furthermore, the gender ratio for recent dental school graduatesis almost 50/50.

Recognizing this powerful trend in dentistry, Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (ADMI) invited more than 50 of its female dentists, including me, to the first ever Women’s Leadership Experience. We discussed strategies to overcome adversity and develop leadership skills.

The theme of the event – “#LeadLikeaGirl” – was our weekend motto and served as a springboard for much discussion. Here are four takeaways that I want to share with my female counterparts in the dental industry:

1. Embrace yourself
Now this doesn’t mean going on a self-promotion binge. But it does mean being proud of your accomplishments. How many years did you spend perfecting your skills in school and beyond? Exactly! Women are naturally nurturing, trustworthy, and patient, but that does not mean we cannot also be confident leaders, especially when it comes to bedside manner and office management.

2. Find a mentor
Unfortunately for many women, the “you can’t be what you can’t see” mantra still holds true, especially when it comes to corporate leadership. But in dentistry, the opposite is happening. I’ve met several women who are multiple practice owners and have large support staffs as well as growing families. By actively seeking mentors, we can learn from our female peers, who understand the juggling act of life while continuing to set goals of professional growth.

3. Envision success
Having a vision of success can be tricky, for both men and women. But a vision of success does not have to be overwhelming or all encompassing. In fact, many agree a key to prolonged success lies in one’s ability to focus on one point or goal in your life rather than many. Have you achieved the work/life balance you’re seeking? Have you reached a specific professional milestone worth celebrating? Often times it’s the sum of the parts that is greater than the whole.

4. Build a network
Networking can be a little intimidating at times. But trust me, it’s worth it. Networking is necessary for our current and future leaders. Even while juggling work and family, it is extremely important to step outside the box and meet like-minded individuals who will support your career. This doesn’t mean carrying business cards or shaking hands. It means growing personal connections with other female dentists in order to expand your thinking and professional capability.

Dr. Swati Malhotra practices dentistry at Aspen Dental practices in Easton, Allentown (Cedar Crest) and Allentown (Airport Road), Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Boston University’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine.