I recognize the title is neither glamorous nor necessarily captivating. I can assure you that the life of a dental spouse isn’t either. You see, these are the short stories and snippets no one writes about since one might just need a tissue to get through them. Quite possibly you’ll laugh or cry or laugh until you cry. Either way, I’m going to spin a short series on the tales that most of you know nothing about and others most certainly wouldn’t write about. They’re either too personal or there might be too much humility involved. After all, there is an exposed human element in something like this. Fortunately, I’ve lived enough life at 55 to know that I’m not the first to live this, but I may just be the first to say it or put it in writing! I’ve always been about the truth. The truth is that most know nothing about the “real lives” of the dental spouse.
Like many of you, I chose a career in dentistry. I didn’t set out to be the career dental spouse. I’ll often say, “my life before wife”. As a professional speaker, I almost always start out defending my position on the podium to a certain degree. In other words, as a professional, I recognize it’s not about me. With that said, my audience is often made up of 90% female team members; team members who heard in my introduction, “…happily married to a practicing dentist, she and her family reside in Texas.” There is a pause. Then their minds race and images of a rouge dental assistant stealing the dentist run rampant – and the learning will NOT begin until this pause (it’s not mini) is over! You see, the one thing that can often give me credibility to the dentist (they recognize I know their joy and pain) is the very thing that takes my credibility away for a moment for the other 90%. I think it’s pretty gutsy to leave it in my bio. Again, as a professional speaker, I know that I have about 10 minutes to earn their trust, so I have to go bold or go home!
It’s always interesting how people view the spouse of a dentist. I can assure you that in most instances, the image is inaccurate. Male or female, I’ve heard the craziest, most asinine comments about being the spouse. Often I have to look at someone near me and say, “Did she really just say that?” To which there is often a look of disbelief followed by, “Yes and I can’t believe it.” My role in our practice is the comprehensive care coordinator. Therefore, I am often the one who presents the larger implant or cosmetic cases. It’s such a joy to be able to see these lives changed with some of the care we offer. To be able to use cone beam technology and see a tumor early, get a patient to the right partner and literally save lives in some instances.
It’s an amazing time to be in a dental practice.
Recently at a break at an implant team-training seminar, a spouse came up to me and actually asked; “Doesn’t it bother you to be the one to present those large cases? After all, you’re the wife.” Interesting question. I then asked, “Tell me more about that?” (This is the stuff I teach in seminars so it’s natural.) She shared her multiple concerns of how she was or would be viewed by the team and patients, that this was self-serving and greedy. To this, I just said, “Well if that is your perception, then that is your reality and the reality you project.” Actually, it seems odd because I don’t think of myself as the wife; at least not first and not in the practice. I consider myself a professional colleague and team member who is passionate about the care we are privileged to offer. I can honestly say, I’ve never been questioned about my role in the practice or as a spouse by a patient. If you teach the stuff, write the articles and books, you own the material; so knowing more than the bank balance is helpful, too. I’m also not the manager. In our practice, Dr. Majors is unmistakably the leader and Ashley is the team leader. Clearly defined roles helps tremendously.
I am blessed to have had a really great career in dentistry, to be blessed by doctors that I had respect for and learned from early in my assisting career while in college and after, then as clients in my businesses. I also have had a myriad of spouses who influenced my behavior in and out of the practice. The great thing about mentors is learning that there are things you see and learn that you want to repeat and things you see and learn that you do not! My experience with mentors is no different.
They know the day to day struggles and recognize there is no paycheck great enough to cover what I am willing to do to support that awesome clinician and leader.
These days, I take my own personal summer with me everywhere I go. They say 55 is the new 45. Cool. I think about the things my parents were doing and not doing at my age. I think about how, in the last year, my body has begun to change. I have a splint on my right hand now because the joint in my thumb needed an injection due to something collapsing. Well, that’s a word that makes you feel strong! These crazy hot flashes (they called it blushing when I was growing up)… Seriously!
Certainly, you don’t really work – much less have multiple jobs.
Recently in a weakened state, I shared with a newer team member as I moved a fan closer to my desk, “Jeez, these hot flashes are ridiculous. Last night, I literally got out of bed, turned off the alarm and got in the pool to cool off. It’s November.” To which, she replied, “At least you have a pool and I guess you have a big fancy house if you have an alarm.” I paused, as I thought, one swift swing and I can break her hyoid bone. Then back to reality and the real life spouse tale! When the only thing proper for a spouse to do is pause. Let me assure you, there is nothing mini about the pause, but there are many!
Next, The Day Wives, as I like to call them. I know some of you will cringe at this but it’s not your story!
See you on the road,
JoAn Majors is a professional speaker, published author and registered dental assistant who works with organizations in the dental industry who want to improve predictability, profitability and PASSION! She knows the dental industry because she lives in it and has spent her career working to make their businesses more successful. Her work is published in over 25 magazines, blogs and newsletters and she is the author of 3 books. You’ll enjoy her regular column in The Progressive Dentist Magazine where she also serves as a content advisor.
JoAn is the co-founder of two dental ventures: Dentistry by Choice, an AGD PACE provider with husband, Dr. Chuck Majors, a second generation practicing dentist and the ProPractice online progressive learning community (with partner Bonnie Hixson) which includes a myriad of unbiased content from industry and non-industry experts. Designed for today’s busy doctor and team, to deliver high value personal and profession development content anytime and anywhere. With 34 years in the industry, 22 years as a spouse, she has an intimate knowledge of team dynamics. She is the originator and voice of the serious and often hilarious, “Spouse-Tales” series – audio recordings and articles influenced from true stories which could only come Out of the Mouth of a spouse.
When not on the road she functions as the Comprehensive Care Coordinator in their fourth and final practice, MajorSmiles. To learn more or see JoAn in action, visit: www.joanmajors.com