Working in a private general dental practice’s direct patient care clinical setting made Mary K. Hughes realize that ‘dentistry’ was her true professional calling. Her tryst as a trainer started when she got the opportunity to improve patient outcomes and find efficiencies in providing care as a dental hygienist (a licensed dental provider recognized by national and state dental boards which can perform patient care within the scope of their practice). A door opened for her to implement a new hygiene protocol and train her peers and the entire team, setting the foundation for Mary to become an established dental consultant later with her venture Dental Education Partners, LLC.
Mary continued her education as a clinical Dental Hygienist after graduating from the State University of New York with a bachelor’s degree in Health Science. She became an expert in team training and effective patient communication coaching methods, which tripled daily hygiene production for her office and all the operatories of the colleagues she coached. With growing confidence and the ability to educate and influence her team members, Mary stepped into dental sales, selling oral health products that managed periodontal disease to dentists and the system to get these products into the hands of the patients that would benefit from them the most. By implementing the system and the products into the general dental practice, patient outcome success was significantly and positively impacted.
Dental Education Partners, LLC
Mary began lecturing in the dental space on behalf of her company and identifying other professionals who wanted to share their patient and office successes with the community. She collaborated with dental expert content creators and modernized a dental course that could be used across the US and Canada to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the hygiene department in dental offices. During this period, Mary K. Hughes developed an interest in entrepreneurship, leading her to establish Dental Education Partners, LLC. With the knowledge that owning and managing a dental practice can be challenging. A nationally approved AGD (Academy of General Dentistry) PACE Program Provider, the company gives dental providers an additional source to obtain the necessary CE (Continuing Education) credit hours for license renewal.
The core educational activities of the company emphasize comprehensive patient care, developing synergy between the front and back offices, and deploying best business practices. Mary designs her courses for clients using an evidence-based approach, incorporating various formats such as virtual, in-person lectures, and hands-on training to accommodate different learning styles and course objectives. For customized courses, she employs a metrics-based approach to learning, prioritizing and emphasizing the learning components that are most needed. With a proven track record of successfully coaching dental teams, she motivates owner dentists and their teams to provide the highest standard of comprehensive patient care, which extends to the practice’s hygiene and restorative aspects.
Mary is certified as a Professional Selling Skills Trainer by Achieve Global®, a reputable and widely recognized leader in sales training, communication, and personnel development. This certification covers various aspects such as interpersonal communication skills, business strategy, employee development, organizational culture, and leadership training techniques. This enabled her to train dental teams on using an effective solution-based approach to significantly increase treatment acceptance. Mary stays updated on dental advancements and technology by networking with other industry key-opinion leaders and attending dental trade shows, conferences, and continuing education courses.
Making a Change for the Better
In the past, the dental industry (specifically dentists) was predominantly male-dominated. The dentist gender trend has evolved to a more equitable balance over the last decade, making it a prime space for professional growth for women now. During her entrepreneurial journey, Mary had to juggle business management and work-life balance. But she found a middle path in networking with like-minded entrepreneurs and social media platforms and utilized those experiences, advice, and best practices to grow further.
For women interested in working in the clinical dental field as a dentist or hygienist, a strong background in science, a desire to provide direct patient care, and a willingness to pursue advanced education and obtain state board licensing are essential. According to Mary, those with business acumen, positive leadership attributes, and a teamwork mindset can have prosperous careers as practice or regional managers at private offices.
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