What’s in it for me?
I have been involved in dentistry alongside my husband, Terry, for 34 years. Just before our marriage 36 years ago, I graduated with a bachelor of science degree in computer programming and was employed as a programmer/systems analyst for years. Many of your spouses also have their own careers, but it is still possible to be an active Alliance member serving the dental profession and the community.
My involvement in the Alliance of the American Dental Association began in Terry’s second year of dental school and has continued ever since because whether we like it or not, dentistry is a family business. What happens in the practice affects the family. Over that time, I have learned to recognize that the dental profession is a series of decisions. First, there was the decision of where to attend dental school, how many schools to apply to, and then three to four years later, the big decision of applying for residencies, practicing dentistry with the questions of where to hang a shingle, and whether to buy a practice or become an associate. I thought that once we had made all those decisions, we would be sailing, but the decisions continue even to this day. It was dentistry that took us from a successful practice in Utah to beginning a new practice in Anchorage, Alaska.
The first time I had to collect money from a patient in the office, I was terrified. The first time I made a collection call, I cried when it was over. The first time I took a patient to court, I thought I would have a heart attack. But I had friends in dentistry that I could rely on to provide me with collection ideas and suggestions.
Throughout this time, I have been active in the Alliance of the American Dental Association on the local, state and national levels. I began serving on a local dental health education committee, creating games and kits for the dentists and spouses to use for dental health presentations. Dentists and spouses taught these presentations for many years.
Marketing the practice became a way of life for us both in Utah and in Anchorage. Because I served as the AADA public relations chair, I have been able to create and send press releases to the media as part of our practice marketing campaign.
Some of you will know that obtaining financial loans for practice growth is considerably more difficult than it has been in better economic times. Financial institutions now require business plans with mission and vision statements. Earlier this year, I coordinated the preparation of the AADA business plan. How grateful Terry and I are that because of this, we provided this necessary information to obtain practice financing in the last few weeks.
I have provided you with just a snippet of the skills I have learned from being a member of the Alliance. Kyla Rollins, a female student spouse in Cleveland, Ohio, said: “Attending my first Alliance of the ADA conference in 2011 in Richmond, Va., was a great experience. I gained insight into helping my spouse start a dental practice and a whole new appreciation for the Alliance.” Kyla saw how much hard work the Alliance members put forth in all areas: legislative, education, membership and well-being. She came away from the conference with new friends and mentors and an excitement to continue being involved in the future. In addition, Kyla presented a blogging tutorial to teach all conference attendees. The best part about the Alliance is learning from each other.
Korey Anderson, a male student spouse in Augusta, Ga., attended the Alliance conference in Tempe, Ariz. He learned how to help his wife set up their dental practice, traits to look for when hiring staff and how to monitor the productivity of the practice. He remarked that if he had known how much information he would receive, he would have brought an entire busload of male spouses with him. Korey became the president of the Alliance of the Medical College of Georgia and has been involved in several projects that have been nominated for the AADA member projects awards.
By now, you are probably asking yourself if your spouse and your practice would benefit from Alliance membership.
The answer is a resounding YES!
Members of the Alliance have been in your shoes. Whether you opened the doors to your practice last month, last year or many years ago, we have been there and are great mentors. We love to help each other and when you make friends across the country you have a wealth of information at your disposal. There are many levels of Alliance involvement. Please help your spouse to set aside time every few years to service in Alliance leadership positions and to pay dues every year.
Dentists, significant others and staff members can also join the Alliance as contributing members. National annual dues are only $50. Some states and some local groups have additional dues, but it will be the best and least expensive investment you will ever make. You may access our application for membership on the AADA website at allianceada.org.
It is time for fun, friendship and philanthropy—the Alliance of the ADA. Join today; you will not regret this decision. It is an investment in your practice, your spouse, your marriage, your family and your community.
Mrs. Preece is the 2010-11 president of the Alliance of the American Dental Association.