Amplifying Voices: Panel highlights importance of empowering yourself, others

Discussion: A panel of dentists discussed key experiences that helped them grow in leadership and the wisdom they gained, how to be a better mentor across lines of difference, and how to navigate “imposter syndrome" during Empower You, which is part of the Amplifying Voices series.

“Take a chance on someone” was an overarching theme of a recent panel discussion, Empower You, part of the Amplifying Voices series.

Rico Short, D.M.D, shared this advice on empowerment and mentorship with a virtual audience that included dentists from a variety of backgrounds, practice settings, and stages in their dental careers.

The panel, moderated by Amrita Patel, D.D.S., also included Jessica Meeske, D.D.S; Chad Reedy, D.D.S.; and Michael Farmer, D.M.D.

Throughout the course of the conversation, panelists discussed key experiences that helped them grow in leadership and the wisdom they gained, how to be a better mentor across lines of difference, and how to navigate “imposter syndrome.”

A common thread in all of the panelists’ experiences was that sometimes, the person you need to take a chance on first is yourself. This is especially true in leadership. Even if you do not view yourself as a leader, Dr. Farmer reminded listeners that “if you are a dentist in an office, whether you want to be or not, you are a leader. People look to you and feed off your energy.” Each of the panelists shared their experiences taking risks, seeking out opportunities, and developing their leadership. Sometimes those risks led to failure, but, as Dr. Meeske shared, “failures help you “learn how to take it to the next level.”

Intentionally building relationships was another secret to their success in empowering others. Drs. Short and Meeske both shared their experiences navigating spaces in which their identities were not the norm. It is hard to break into a new group and taking interest in a new person to help encourage their involvement and leadership. When building relationships across lines of difference, Dr. Reedy reminded everyone, “We all attended dental schools, all took the boards, and we all survived. We are all unique individuals, all colleagues with the common goal of giving the best care to our patients and continuing the excellence of dentistry.” By cultivating new leaders, and empowering others, we help create, what Dr. Farmer refers to as an “exponential impact.”

Cultivating the leadership of new dentists is extremely important and takes many forms. For Drs. Reedy and Patel, it was working to increase the representation of new dentists at all levels of tripartite governance. Dr. Meeske has dental students rotating through her practice, whom she teaches dental techniques and take along to advocacy meetings at the legislature, to give them that additional leadership experience. Dr. Short reminded everyone of the importance ofgoing to where they are, particularly social media, and empowering people who may not fit the previous leadership mold.

All the panelists agreed that growing in one’s leadership leads to greater opportunities to lead and empower others. Dr. Meeske encouraged everyone in attendance, saying, “When you are able to have the skillset and the power to make change, whether you impact yourself, practice, patients, dentists, or population, it is the most exhilarating feeling knowing you can make those changes.”

A recording of this webinar is available at ADA CE Online . Empower You was the fourth in the Amplifying Voices Series. The New Dentist Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee collaborated to create the “Amplifying Voices” series of open conversations on diversity and inclusion topics. The first webinar was held in September 2020on racial inequalities in the dental profession. The second session was held in March 2021 in celebration of Women’s History Month that featured a multigenerational panel discussing how they turned challenges into opportunities and can be viewed on YouTube here . The third session, Amplifying Voices: An Open Forum on LGBTQ+ Community and the Dental Profession was held on June 23 and is also on Youtube . Stay tuned for the next webinar in early 2022.

© 2023 American Dental Association