|25 Apr 2017|
|WM Spring 2017 edition|
WM: Please give us a quick introduction about yourself.
OT: My name is Oana Taban, I am a dentist and I am married with two children who make me very proud – Maria, also a dentist, and Carol, a student at AISB. I am the founder of DENT ESTET, the Romanian dentistry market leader by revenue, team size, number of dental clinics and many other criteria.
It isn’t easy to talk about yourself, especially if you consider your success a natural e ect of hard work and dedication, rather than an objective that must be reached.
Many times, the rst things that appear at a glance into my mind when asked to talk about myself are the clinics, the team and the beautiful 18 years in which I have worked every day to build DENT ESTET and this medical team specialized to perform on all age groups: adults, children and teenagers. We have a team of 240 specialists who work in 9 clinics, and 86 of them are doctors. But the most important thing is that they all are devoted when it comes to o ering the best services to our patients. I am happy that I’ve built something that can really bring a positive change into so many people’s lives.
I don’t consider DENT ESTET a business because it is part of my family since... forever! It is our expression of passion for dentistry and for beautiful smiles... My team and the people surrounding me, including my two children, Maria and Carol, and also my husband, Cristian, are those who fueled my power to ful ll this dream over time and to create the leading group of dental clinics in Romania. And, when I look back to where I started, I see why it was worth all the e ort.
WM: How did you decide to become a dentist and what steps did you take to make your dream come true? What University did you attend?
OT: I attended the Mihai Viteazu High School, in Ploiesti, and I dreamt of becoming a doctor, when someone in my family, a succesful surgeon, advised me to choose dentistry – considering that it was more suitable for me. I prepared for the college exam for two years, focusing on Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I started dentistry at the University of Medicine, in Targu-Mures, moved to Bucharest and graduated in dentistry from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”.
Attending and graduating from Dental school in Bucharest was a decision that I made myself and one which I am very proud of because I could never imagine myself in any other place than here.
WM: How has your path after nishing your university studies changed throughout the years?
OT: After I graduated, I started working as an employed doctor, but there were so many things that I felt were limiting my perspective, that soon I began wishing to open my own dental office. It didn’t take too long until I made that rst step, and not even that much longer until I managed to have a signi cant number of patients. The practice grew quite quickly for that period and I started hiring doctors and assistants. Actually, we have many doctors that have been working with us for more than 10 years; for example, the rst employed dentist, Dr. Alexandru Georgescu, and my rst dental assistant, Alina Inache are still part of the team.
Once I understood how important it is to properly take care of all the management aspects of a healthcare business, I “sacri ced my career as a dentist doctor” and began attending international management programs dedicated to this market, the most important ones being in the USA. The in uence of the American dental market was crucial in most of the decisions I had to take over time regarding the evolution of DENT ESTET and helped me introduce a lot of the international dentistry standards in Romania. We were the rst to have a multidisciplinary team of doctors, the rst to open clinics dedicated exclusively to children or teenagers, the rst to digitalize many dental procedures etc.
It is essential to have healthcare management skills and know how, but in my opinion, you can’t reach the full potential of a manager if you don’t know this profession very well, or even if you don’t practice it for a while.
WM: When did you change your mind from professing as a dentist to becoming a business woman? What caused that shift?
OT: I consider very important the moment when I realized that intuitive management is not enough. I wanted to change a lot of things, but I could not do it because I worked as a doctor as well as a manager and coordinator of the medical team. And I think that from that point on I understood what it means to satisfy the high needs of my patients and I started my preparations as manager, attenting many management courses in the USA.
I understood that in order to do this I had to di erentiate DENT ESTET in this market, so I had to understand the importance of healthcare marketing. I applied human resources strategies with the purpose to build a strong, well prepared and efficient team. I also had to research for the best materials, the best dental equipment and to understand the dental suppliers market. And, of course, all of these came with important nancial aspects that I had to learn and oversee. It was obvious that I had to make a change in my pro esional life and embrace the transition from being a dentist to being a business woman.
So... I cannot identify a “time 0” when talking about this switch of position. It came naturally as more patients were coming, the team got larger and it needed someone to unify all things under the same roof. For the past 15 years I’ve also been a business manager that takes all the responsibilities and assumes all the changes. It is, undoubtedly, more challenging, but nevertheless rewarding.
I am glad that this change came easily because I realized that all my medical experience completed by the management skills that I grew through continuous learning had a great impact on my business. For example, I understand the professional needs of the doctors; I understand the role of the support and management teams and the most important thing is that I understand the fears and the expectations of the patients.
WM: Was the transition hard? What did you have to change?
OT: As a dentist, it was really easy to understand quickly what patients wanted and, furthermore, what are the best treatment solutions for them, but as a leader I was facing the big picture perspective. Yes, the patient must always be the focus of your services, but as a leader you also focus on having the best medical team, and a really smart and strong support team, consisting of treatment coordinators, marketing specialists, front desk officers etc.
Before choosing to be a manager, I enjoyed being a dentist; I enjoyed talking all day long to patients and treating them. As a dentist you develop very close relationships with most of your patients and you are rewarded with kind words and recommendations.
But, as time passed, I realized that I could help them in other ways, in innovating, in creating a powerful medical team, in investing in new technologies that could change their lives for the better. And looking from this angle, after building so many dental clinics, I am con dent that I managed to reach the treatment quality level that patients expect to receive.
WM: What obstacles did you face during this time?
OT: If I were to talk about obstacles, there are two perspectives: internal and external.
From an internal point of view, the two most challenging things when owning a dental clinic are the stability of the team, but also its formation and evolution. I always had to nd ways to inspire our doctors to be totally focused on our patients and on creating a strong, stable medical team that share the same values. I always say that this (the stability of the team) is one of the most important reasons for this beautiful growth of DENT ESTET.
From an external perspective, I think that the lack of access to information was in uencing the patients at that time. But over the years and through continuous investment of time and e ort in free educational campaigns, patients got more informed and more selective when choosing a doctor for their dental and medical treatment.
WM: How has this transition changed you as a person?
OT: Despite what sometimes journalists see in me and write in the media, I have never considered myself a very strong person, neither the best in something. But I knew that I could rely on my intuition and my desire to constantly improve things. I had to get stronger in order to succeed in a eld where “the doctor” was more a masculine persona and made easier the transfer of trust. Also, I had to change my daily habits, as the number of clinics increased and, of course, my personal time became very limited. I had to nd the resources to be at the same time a leader and a mom. And this is a continuous challenge.
In 2008 I decided to open the rst dental clinic in Romania and Eastern Europe dedicated exclusively for children, DENT ESTET 4 KIDS. Carol, my son, was only 2 years old when I identi ed the need for a professional environment where he could be treated. Although I had a great team of dentists and the latest technology, I understood the many bene ts of opening a clinic specialized in pediatric dentistry, like in the USA.
The need for such a clinic is really high everywhere, but unfortunately there aren’t many who prioritize this specialty.
After 8 years, I still get confirmation that this is an important step forward in our eld from thousands of parents who thank us every day for the way our pediatric doctors in uence the general health and childhood of their daughters and sons.
WM: What are your goals for DENT ESTET’s future?
OT: DENT ESTET is always developing and this process comes with a lot of new challenges. In April we will inaugurate the rst digitalized dental clinic for adults in Romania, a very ambitious and beautiful project, with 8 units where we will be able to treat even the most di cult reconstruction cases and to guarantee the results of the treatment.
Three years ago, DENT ESTET started its national extension and the rst clinic outside Bucharest was in Timisoara. The next steps are to bring our knowledge and the entire DENT ESTET environment to other important cities in Romania, so very soon, we will probably open more clinics for children, teenagers and adults in some of the biggest cities in Romania.
In 2016, DENT ESTET joined MedLife, the most important Healthcare Company in our country. We are honored that we are partners and that our consistent e orts from the past 18 years have been recognized by the indisputable healthcare market leader in Romania. We are part of a company that has the same values that we have and that has grown, like DENT ESTET, always guided by their patient’s needs. That is why we are certain that together we will contribute not only to this business’s evolution, but also to the dentistry market growth, constantly investing in education, innovation and team’s development.
On the other hand, we are really involved in supporting the market and we have a lot of plans in this direction. In 2013, we launched ADOM (Association of Dental O ce Managers) in Romania and the rst dental o ce management school in our country to prepare healthcare managers for developing dental clinics. Since then, we had 9 editions and we are preparing the rst conference for dental o ce management. Because there are so many doctors and clinics in Romania that ask for our help, we will soon launch DENT ESTET Education Division and give more of our medical and business know-how to the local dentistry market.
WM: What advice do you have for our alumni considering a medical career and/or starting their own business?
OT: Dentistry starts with passion, towards patients and towards the profession itself. Of course, it is important to learn and graduate from
a well-recognized university. But, complete all this theoretical knowledge with practice and courses. Take your time to learn and discover what you like, what you can do best (implantology, prosthetics, orthodontics, endodontics etc.) and then practice again.
We brought many concepts in Romania from the US dentistry market and what I can point out is the fact that the key to being a great professional is to never get tired of learning and improving your skills. After we trained more than 250 doctors, dental o ce owners and o ce managers through ADOM, we reached the same conclusion: if you want to practice medicine and to be a great professional, you have to work in an organized system and to let others take care of management, marketing, patient care, business controlling, etc.
Dentistry is an art, in order to perfect it one must practice it. Once you have decided to be a great doctor take all the time to do that. And if you’d rather choose to be a manager, then be a manager, dedicate your time to developing management skills, coordination, a little bit of every business area, and build a strong team. Either way, I advise alumni to choose one or the other path in order to obtain the best results.
WM: What is your greatest achievement in life thus far, professionally or personally?
OT: Apart from my family and the beautiful marriage that brought so many good things to my life for the past 30 years, DENT ESTET is undoubtedly the greatest achievement in my life.
The team, the values, the need to become better every day... I strongly believe that DENT ESTET is a trendsetter in Romanian dentistry and its in uence in the quality of the medical act is the proof that with dedication and trust we can build structures that can improve and change lives.
Read the entire WORLD Magazine Spring 2017 edition here.