…a conversation with Terri Felix, Practice Manager
Today we shine the spotlight on someone who’s done it all, and with a positive outlook to boot. Terri Felix is with Bay Dental in Sault Ste. Marie and shares with us the story of her rich and varied career.
Terri got her start at Bay Dental Group fifteen years ago, joining as Hygiene Coordinator and working her way through several roles before becoming Practice Manager. She jokes that she’s seen and done it all – everything from filling the schedule and making calls to managing a large team. “I believe I’ve held every position in this office,” says Terri. “But I’ve never been happier than I am in my current role.”
Terri loves what she’s doing now because it challenges her, but it also gives her the opportunity to use her considerable experience gained from her former roles. “I’m able to help out in any number of ways around the practice,” says Terri. “The variety keeps it new and exciting – every day is different”.
During the past year with the pandemic, some practices were forced to close temporarily but Bay Dental was not one of them. As the designated urgent care provider for most of the city, the practice was an essential service and continued to serve patients. “It certainly presented a new set of challenges as we worked to implement all the necessary changes,” recalls Terri. “I was by myself with one assistant and two doctors for about five months – I was coordinating insurance, filling schedules, you name it – it was definitely interesting!”
Aside from the variety, there are other things that Terri values about her role as Practice Manager. At the top of the list, and the driving force that gets her out of bed each day, are her colleagues and the interactions she gets to have with patients.
For Terri, a great patient experience starts from the moment they walk through the door. “A warm greeting that makes them feel welcome is so important,” says Terri. “It sets the tone for the rest of the visit.” Terri also remarks that smooth transitions are also key, for example when handing off from the Dental Hygienist to the Doctor. “If you make the patient experience easy and comfortable, it goes a long way to influence patients to speak well of us and even refer their friends.”
We talked a bit about the pandemic and its impact on her as a person. “I’m doing what I need to do to stay sane,” Terri says. “I’ve started doing yoga, I’m walking more. I’m a big believer in the impact of positive thinking, and the bright side of this situation has been the opportunity to grow and explore different things.” Terri points out that with the amount of negativity we’re all exposed to in politics and in the media, surrounding yourself with positive thoughts and people is a great strategy that will benefit you in the long term and make your life happier.
One of the recent challenges for Terri has been being apart from her children, who are out of the country at the moment, pursuing their studies. Being able to see them again is at the top of her post-pandemic bucket list. “Once this is all over, I am going to visit my daughter in Germany. She’s going to school there for her Masters. I’ll also be visiting my son as he’s doing an oral surgery internship at a hospital in Chicago.”
As one of the first practices to become part of dentalcorp almost eight years ago, Bay Dental has seen a lot of changes, and Terri herself was there right from the beginning. “In the early years it was new and evolving, so there were some initial growing pains and challenges that we faced,” recalls Terri. But she is quick to note that dentalcorp’s efforts are coming to fruition and its vision is becoming realized. “It’s really nice to have the support from dentalcorp for things like Procurement, or Legal – having access to experts and resources that we would otherwise have to research ourselves.” She is especially impressed with Director of Operations, Al Cussen. “He’s the best,” she says. “If you want something done or you have questions that need to be answered – Al’s there.”
With all her experience, we talked about what advice Terri might have for someone just starting out on their career. She suggests that attitude and personality are far more critical to success than skills and experience. “No matter what your background or experience, as long as you have a good disposition you can be taught the skills to succeed in any position,” says Terri. An art major herself, she points out that people on her team come from a wide variety of backgrounds including pharmacy and business. “We all learned the dental terminology and the operational side of running a practice by the people around us,” says Terri. “My advice: don’t be discouraged by a lack of experience in dentistry – as long as you’re a people person with a great attitude, you can be taught almost anything.”