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In just the past decade, the number of female dentists practicing in the United States has risen to 27%—an exponential rise given the fact that in 1980, women made up only 3%.1,2
What's even more compelling is that women make up half of today's dental school graduates, a number that may soon grow larger. For Aspen Dental, this demographic shift has already taken root.
"76% of all team members at Aspen Dental-branded practices are female, including 40% of dentists, which outpaces the industry average," syas Bob Fontana, CEO of Aspen Dental Management Inc. (ADMI), the dental support organization that supports nearly 500 independently owned and operated Aspen Dental practices in 31 states. "In fact, half of the dentists who join Aspen Dental practices today are women."
In an effort to better support female dentists, ADMI held its inaugural Women's Leadership Experience in late March. The event was designed to connect the dentists ADMI supports and provide them opportunities to develop leadership skills to take back to their respective offices. Nearly 50 female dentists, including practice owners, specialists, and managing clinical directors, along with six representatives of the American Student Dental Association, flew to Santa Monica, California, to grow professionally, make connections, and discuss mutual challenges.
"This was a very relevant and much-needed event, especially for some of the younger dentists who want to start their careers out as leaders," says Amrita Reddy, DMD, lead dentist and owner of four Aspen Dental practices in southern New Hampshire. "While we learn clinical skills, dentists are not taught about management and leadership in dental school, thus facing a reality where we must learn to treat and manage patients, teams, and family without any training."
Yet, while progress has been made, Fontana knows that there is still work to be done. By investing in the next generation of female leaders in the dental industry, he hopes to empower women to own and operate dental offices by knowing how to "#LeadLikeaGirl."
At the event, keynote speaker Shannon Cassidy, founder of the bridge between inc., shared techniques and tips on building relationships with their team members, controlling what they can control, and owning their work-life balance. In addition, Aspen Dental partner and famed NASCAR driver Danica Patrick stopped by to give her thoughts on breaking down barriers within any industry.
"Knowing the soft skills of good leadership is paramount to succeeding in the dental industry," said Dr. Reddy. "As this demographic shift continues, it is up to female dentists everywhere to own their new roles leaders and embrace being the new face of dentistry."
1. Professionally Active Dentists by Gender. The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-dentists-by-gender/. Accessed July 7, 2015.
2. Solomon E. Dental workforce trends and the future of dental practices. Dental Economics. http://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-95/issue-2/features/the-future-of-dentistry.html. Published February 26, 2015. Accessed July 7, 2015.
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