They say it’s never too late to go back to school,
so that is what I did. I was a stay at home mom of my three children for about 10 yrs. It was about a year after my youngest child started school that I decided to go back to school myself. People’s teeth have always fascinated me. So I decide to go to Texas State Technical College to get my certificate as a Registered Dental Assistant. I graduated top of my class with a 4.0 and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. I had three job offers before I walked across the stage. One offer was actually from the orthodontic office I did my first hours of internship. I told myself if I get offered a job here I am gonna take it. So it happened, the doctor offered me a job. I was so excited and ready to start but she said she wanted me to complete my last 160 hours interning for a general dentist. She wanted me to be well rounded and understand both sides of dentistry. So I of course agreed and called the office where I had always had my teeth cleaned in the past and asked them if I could finish out my hours with them. They agreed and it was the best thing I did for my career. After getting my feet wet in general dentistry I was hooked and decided that is where I wanted to be. My thoughts went back to the orthodontic office that offered me a job and I immediately felt guilt but was very thankful for the opportunity. I have maintained a great relationship with that office and took all three of my kids to have braces put on.
As I was doing my internship with the general dentist,
a patient arrives in a wheel chair to have her teeth cleaned. I have always been a caregiver so I immediately ran to help this sweet woman in the chair. What I didn’t know is the hygienist I was helping was very impressed. Well, I have always said it’s not what you know it’s who you know. My hygienist knew a man who just finished dental school and was opening a new practice. His office was looking for an assistant so she gave him my contact information. I got an interview immediately. He told me it was like I was interviewing him. Ha. Well, he offered me the position as his main assistant so I took it. However, he was not going to open his office for another 3 months. I needed a job immediately. I heard about another general dentist that was hiring. I went on that interview and they offered me the job starting immediately. Now I am in a pickle. After lots and lots of praying, I came to the decision that I was probably not the best candidate to start as the main assistant for a new dentist being that I was fresh out of school and still had A LOT to learn. I called the dentist and told him I couldn’t accept the job and thankfully he was very understanding.
I started my new job as an assistant for one of the best dentists around. His first words to me were it takes a year to become a great assistant. I thought to myself, yeah right I graduated top of my class I got this. Well, let’s just say I humbled myself after the first day on the job. I was so overwhelmed and had so much to learn at one point I didn’t think I could do it at all. Then it happened, I am taking an x-ray after a root canal and I cannot get the x-ray he needed. Now I should tell you that this dentist is the best around but a perfectionist. If an impression wasn’t right, you re did it. If the x-rays were cone cut or you couldn’t see the contacts or apex he would sure let you know about it so you could do it better the next time. Let’s just say this one moment I had to retreat to the lab just to take a breather and drop a few tears. After getting myself back together and telling myself that I can do this. I finished the x-ray and it was a success. I was with this dentist for a year and a half and it was the greatest experience. He taught me EVERYTHING as an assistant but there was still more I wanted to learn I just felt like he was holding on to my shirttail. I wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes. How does insurance work? How do referrals work? etc.
One day I picked up the newspaper and the new dentist that was opening up his own practice a year and a half ago was now hiring for the front desk position. This is it, I wanted to learn all about the front desk. I called and spoke to the office manager and asked if I could update my resume. She immediately asked if I could come do a working interview and told me I had the job if I wanted it.
My new position at the front desk,
as financial and treatment coordinator, was so different than what I was used to. Now, even though I was up front he still wanted me to help assist in the back when I was needed. I went to take my first x-ray and was completely confused, it was all-digital. In the previous office I worked we paper-charted and took film x-rays and processed it ourselves. Now on top of learning about the insurance and the computer system I had to learn how to take a digital x-ray, it was overwhelming but I caught on.
I was exploring the system and found a screen that said outstanding claims. I noticed the dates on these claims were from when he first opened a year and a half ago to present. I called Eaglesoft and asked what this screen was and they told me it was all my claims that have not been paid. WOW! Something went off in me and I became a bull dog with lipstick. I called these insurance companies and asked why they were not paying and what they needed to close the claim. After speaking to the numerous insurance companies and getting them what they needed I was able to collect over $20,000 just in outstanding claims. I have now found my passion. I wanted to learn all about insurance and what they were looking for. My goal was to NEVER let this happen again and it hasn’t. Five and half years later I have picked up a few new responsibilities. I help handle supply orders for the office minus the supplies for the back. The assistant handles those. If something goes wrong I help to fix it from computer issues, equipment issues, renewals, insurance negotiations, credentialing, updating handbook policies, statements, contracts, etc. I pretty much did all the little things and anything the doctor needed doing.
“Lois Banta Lit a Spark in Me.”
I have been going to TDA in San Antonio for the past 5 yrs. My classes are always of course about insurance. About 4 years ago is when I met Lois Banta. I sat through her speech and have loved her ever since. If she was speaking I was in the front row each year she was there. Hearing her story lit a spark in me that I thought I could do more than what I was doing. I wanted to know what Lois and the other speakers knew. I wanted to be one up on the insurance game. Finally, this year I decided to throw caution to the wind and email Lois personally. I told her that I knew I could do more than what I was doing and wanted to know a lot more than what I already knew. She told me to come to the SCN meeting this year. So I went to Florida for my very first SCN meeting. I’m not gonna lie, I was so excited in the beginning but after the first day I thought I can’t do this. Panic set in I had so many emotions running through me from enthusiasm and excitement to full blown terror, I didn’t even know what I wanted anymore until I kept hearing people say throughout the meeting “Don’t stand in your own way”, so I gathered myself up and started reaching out to some of the members and gained some confidence back. During the meeting I joined another organization called AADOM, I’m obsessed. I love it. I read the forum every day just waiting for the new information to come through. I am not giving up. I am very thankful for all the wonderful people I met at SCN and look forward to what the future holds.