Have you ever reflected on your job and said, “I hope to be here a long time?” As the lead dentist at an Apex-supported practice in Oklahoma, Dr. Sheila Emamian has achieved the joy and fulfillment that many don’t experience at work. In fact, if you speak with her, Dr. Emamian will tell you, “I feel like I’ve found success at Apex because I’m so happy.”
A child’s secret love for dentistry
Becoming a dentist was Dr. Emamian’s childhood aspiration. Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, she loved the experience provided by her family practice and admired a profession that could allow her to have a positive presence in the community. But for a while, this dream was a well-kept secret.
Criticisms like “I hate going to the dentist!” and “That’s so weird!” from her adolescent peers made Dr. Emamian hide her desire to become a dentist until her parents encouraged her to pursue this impactful profession.
“I wanted to improve people’s confidence,” Dr. Emamian said. “The transition that people have from ‘I’ve never smiled before’ or ‘I’ve always hated my smile’ to loving their smile was something I wanted to offer. I really liked the thought of giving people a smile they could be proud of.”
An unexpected opportunity presents itself
After graduating from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Dentistry in 2019, Dr. Emamian jumped into a large, fast-paced, DSO-owned practice where she discovered which services she felt most comfortable offering. Though she wasn’t looking for a new opportunity, Dr. Emamian’s perspective changed when she started receiving recruiting emails from David Lohmann, CEO of Apex Dental Partners.
At the time, David was looking to replace a retiring owner dentist who had been with his practice for over 25 years. Though Dr. Emamian didn’t know much about Apex, the practice was close to home and offered a more enticing benefits package than she was currently receiving while working for a large corporate group. After several conversations with David, Dr. Emamian was intrigued enough to meet with him and take a tour of the practice. When she visited, she was immediately struck by its humble and personable environment.
“When you walk in, it feels like grandma’s house because it’s so comfortable,” Dr. Emamian said. “Patients don’t assume everything will be extravagant or costly because it looks like a family place.”
A “family place” was exactly the right assessment. As Dr. Emamian learned more about Bethany Family Dentistry, she discovered the prior dentist had cultivated a practice that multiple generations came to and felt comfortable referring to their community.
Apex wanted to preserve the legacy the retiring dentist had built by finding a new long-term provider who would honor his values and patient-care philosophy. Dr. Emamian never knew it was possible to work somewhere that offered the support, mentorship, and guidance of a large dental support group paired with the feel of a private practice. Once she saw it was possible, she decided to join the team.
A stress-free transition into leadership
Before her first day, Dr. Emamian was welcomed by Apex’s chief clinical operations officer, Dr. Michael Fooshée, and the rest of the clinical leadership team. This group of dentists provided the resources, clinical guidance, and insight she and other young dentists need to have a successful start.
“Dr. Fooshée was very involved in my initial onboarding and made sure I had everything I needed clinically before I saw patients,” Dr. Emamian said.
Another key doctor who reached out was Dr. Layla Lohmann, co-founder and clinical director of Apex. She contacted Dr. Emamian to see how things were going and provide encouragement.
“One of my favorite things is that Dr. Lohmann called and texted me multiple times,” Dr. Emamian said. “She’s incredibly personable. I like that Apex is not so formal that you have to go through ten different people to get an answer. She gave me her cell phone number and said, ‘Hey, text me if you have any questions.'”
What also helped was the work Apex and the former dentist did to prepare the patients and team for Dr. Emamian’s arrival.
“He spoke highly of me to patients and told them that I was hand-selected by him,” Dr. Emamian said. “He made them feel comfortable and made me feel more confident and empowered too.”
Oftentimes, a practice transition can be distressing for patients and teams. However, Apex empowered the retiring dentist to communicate openly to ensure his retirement was a positive experience, and everyone welcomed Dr. Emamian warmly.
Stepping into a new role with ease
Today, Dr. Emamian has fully settled into her role at Bethany Family Dentistry and is excited for continued opportunities to develop as a clinician and leader within her community. As a young lead dentist, she appreciates the support Apex provides in continuing education and improving communication amongst her team. Their assistance has already resulted in multiple accomplishments.
For example, with advice from Apex, Dr. Emamian and her hygienists learned tools to improve their patient communication and increase fluoride acceptance rates, an effort that significantly improved patient care. Additionally, Apex’s clinical team helped Dr. Emamian become comfortable with implant dentistry, expanding her skill set and treatment capacity. She also recently mastered the delicate balance of speaking to patients to help increase their comfort while staying focused on treatment to ensure she finishes procedures promptly. The growth Dr. Emamian has experienced with Apex’s support is a benefit she believes will continue long term.
“If I ever wanted to learn a new skill or procedure, they would support me fully,” Dr. Emamian said. “I know Apex wants what’s best for me, and in turn, what’s best for me will be what’s best for our patients.”
An invitation to join the good side
Dr. Emamian has achieved much during her time at Bethany Family Dentistry. The smooth transition, welcoming environment, success, and continued support from Apex has created the perfect package for career satisfaction. It’s also allowed her to experience a work/life balance she’s never had before.
“Dentistry is something I worked very, very hard for. I appreciate that it’s a big part of my life, but it is not my whole life, nor do I ever want it to be,” Dr. Emamian said. “The nice thing about Apex is that I just get to do dentistry. I don’t do payroll or hiring or insurance, I only do the parts I want to do. Then I can spend my free time with my family or traveling.”
Traveling has become a significant part of Dr. Emamian’s personal life. As a result of joining Apex, she’s had the flexibility and security to travel more in the past year than ever before. And as a result of this benefit and many more, Dr. Emamian hopes the Apex Family continues to grow.
“I know change is hard, and a career transition is a big decision,” Dr. Emamian said. “But sometimes when I’m talking to other people, I’m just like, ‘Gosh, you’re missing out. Come to the good side!'”