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Career, Family & Fun: Can Female Dentists Have It All?

Great Careers for WomenCan women have a thriving career and still be a great mother and wife (if they choose to be, of course)? This has been a hot question over the past few years in the business world. With the growing number of women going into dentistry, it should also be a topic we, as women, discuss and address.

I recently spent time talking with Drs. Kim Daxon, Stacey Sparkman Hall and Laura Wittenauer. In our conversations we discussed if it is possible to have it all and if it is, how do they do it? Below is a brief excerpt from their interview.

How do you make sure your priorities stay priorities?

Laura Wittenauer: I don’t over-schedule myself to make sure that my priorities stay my priorities. I was involved with an organization, which I thoroughly enjoyed, however, it was taking up so much of my time. I had to relinquish that position because of that. We can volunteer in a lot of places, however, we have to be careful about what’s the most important use of our time. Everybody has to answer that for themselves.

Kim Daxon: What helps me to be organized or to get everything done is to put every single thing, even if it’s a possibility, on my calendar. Every Sunday, my husband and I sit down with our calendars and go through the week. My husband travels a lot so it’s even more critical that I have everything in my calendar.

At the risk of sounding selfish, I have also learned that if I don’t take care of myself, then I can’t take care of anybody else. My mom had a quote she kept in our bathroom; it said, “You better keep yourself clean and bright for you are the window through which you must view the world.” And having read that every single day growing up, I think it has such a profound impact on me.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you don’t see the world as you should. Making sure I exercise and get personal time really helps to clear my head so that I can have the strength, stamina and focus to take care of my family, which is my number one priority.

Stacey Sparkman Hall: Creating systems has really helped. I know my office is running smoothly when I’m not there because of my team and the systems we’ve created. Each team member knows what happens when, making it rare they need to ask me questions to get something done. The team has been phenomenal in helping me create that balance.

I’d also say breaking down the vision of my practice has been important too. It has allowed me to explain my mission to my team and make sure every piece of the puzzle, everybody that is part of it, is on board and ready to create that vision.

This summer I took Fridays off too so I had four-day weekends. My team did a phenomenal job in recognizing that I had less time in my schedule, but I needed that time to be efficient. I ended up having the best month in July than I’ve had in the four years of being open and I worked less time.

I think of Dr. Dawson when I think about that month. He always says, “Create your matrix: what you want to do and when you want to be in your practice. Then make that plan work so you can be out of your office and doing the things that you really want to be doing with your family or whomever” (Figure 2). July was a perfect example of what he always talked about. I just sat down with my office manager and said, “Hey look! See what you all did.” Because, yes, I sat in the chair with the patients, but they made it happen.

The full interview covers how they create and manage their schedules, how they fit dental CE into their lives and other tips they have for female dentists on being successful. To download the full interview, click here.