Chasing Your Dream

Molly PereiraFeatured News

By Carrie Mauterer, D.D.S., CDA Editor
Published in the Fall 2021 issue of the Journal of the Colorado Dental Association

For the first time in years, the CDA Ladies in the Loupe group was able to meet again in person. I remember attending the very first Loupe event held at the Denver Botanical Gardens over a decade ago and feeling very small. I was like a baby Snoop Dogg staring at all of the mature and worldly Dr. Dre’s who had successfully launched their careers. Back then I didn’t know a soul at the event, and I was curious what a women-only event would feel like. I didn’t need to worry. Once I arrived, I felt welcomed and included. I was grateful for the chance to hear from our trailblazers as we chatted about careers, life and goals.

Dr. Adriana Zuniga (left), ADA Executive Director Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin, Dr. Tiffany Manzo, Dr. Susan Kutis, Dr. Carrie Mauterer, Dr. An Nguyen and Dr. Carol Morrow at the September 2021 Ladies in the Loupe event.

This September, we gathered at the Denver Athletic Club. I saw warmth and joy and heard peals of laughter throughout the room. It had been too long. We all missed each other. After so much time had passed without having that support group to lean on, we were all a little hungry for some together time. We needed this.

Up on the stage sat seven brave women, willing to risk an hour of pure unadulterated vulnerability. We shared our low points and our high points. We shared our insecurities and our hopes for the future. We encouraged each other and gave advice to each other. In times like these, we deeply understood how much we need to lean on each other.

And, most importantly, we shared our dreams with each other.

As the group collectively answered questions on leadership, work-life balance and courage, I was so proud of the work model diversity represented on the stage. One woman shared her pride of buying her own private practice while another shared her passion for working for the Indian Health Services. One woman opened a scratch start practice with a devoted business partner, another woman sold her practice and expressed her relief and satisfaction working as an associate dentist and a dental educator. While one woman shared her experience as the Dental Director for Colorado Public Health in the metro area, another found joy by leading her DSO as a Clinical Director. My favorite woman on the stage, however, was the woman who has never been intimidated by any glass ceiling while she served as the Executive Director for the American Dental Association. Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin was our guest of honor and was the guest of honor a decade ago at the CDA’s first Ladies in the Loupe event. It was a full circle moment for me.

With all of the opinions and advice offered at this event, there was one main theme. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. Hearing the journeys of seven different women showed the 100 or so women in attendance that your dream can be anything you want it to be. There are so many ways to define success in dentistry and so many directions you can take your journey in this profession. It is encouraging to me to hear about so many different pathways the women on stage took and how separate pathways led to contentment and accomplishment for each woman.

This event was a refreshing place to dismiss judgement and drop the assumption that your dreams are the same as the woman sitting next to you.

There is room for everyone in our profession and we need diversity and ingenuity and disruptors and that weirdo who is obsessed with the similarities between the teeth of mammoths and Asian elephants.

I would like to quote one of my favorite professors from dental school, Dr. Royce Hatch. He once told me, “There is always room for a good dentist anywhere.” I encourage you to chase your dreams, no matter where in the profession they may take you. Because there is always room for more good dentists.

I hope to see you at a future event. In the meantime, set your goals, find your courage (you are never going to feel completely ready) and jump in!