By Shurna Decou
Rachel Beyer’s youngest child was 2-years-old when she bought an established dental practice from a retiring dentist.
With a thriving dental practice in Louisiana, healthy family, and volunteer missions in foreign countries, Rachel Beyer is embracing life while balancing motherhood and dentistry. She went to dental school at a time when women could have it all — a fulfilling career and a family.
But even with a good education, three healthy children and a supportive husband, Dr. Beyer didn’t always feel so confident. There have been some bumpy roads along the way.
Fifteen years after dental school, Rachel talked with Unum about the highs and lows of juggling motherhood and dentistry, and the life lessons she has learned along the way.
Your children are ages 14, 12 and 9. Can you describe the early days of what it was like becoming a mother?
I had my first child in my last year of dental school. I didn't have a choice in how long I could be out and I just had a few weeks to be off with her. That was the school and those were the rules.
My family came in to help me when she was born, and my husband was very helpful when I had to go back to school.
You were an associate in one dental practice for seven years when you purchased a practice from a retiring dentist several miles away, and moved with your three children and husband to there. Your youngest child was two-years-old at the time. What were some of the struggles you had in juggling motherhood and being a business owner?
My first year in practice was a struggle, because I was learning how to run a practice. I didn't want to work too many hours and be away from my kids, but I had to work enough hours to pay the bills.
The patients had been going to this dentist who was retiring for years and they didn’t know anything about me, so there was no reason for them to stay with me. Some patients stayed, but a lot left. And as a new owner, dealing with staff issues was very challenging.
That was a low point for me. I couldn't see yet that it would grow, and it would pay off.
Once I started hiring new team members - that helped reduce my stress and make my job so much easier, and I found a wonderful office manager that I could trust and depend on. My husband is a CPA, and he taught me about the business aspects of running the practice.
I’m almost seven years in as an owner, and the stress and the financial burden has gotten much better. We have grown a great deal, and my patients love me.
Can you share a high point for you juggling a family and career?
Two years ago, I took my oldest daughter on a medical mission trip where we provided dental care to people who lived in a mountain village in Peru. They didn't have vehicles, so we took a bus to the village every day and worked in a school.
We performed extractions, cleanings and gave oral hygiene instructions to the people. My daughter would help me in the dental office and she would play with the kids outside as they were waiting for their turn. She got to watch some of the physicians treat patients as well. And she got to see a world outside of her little community and see what I actually do. We were gone for 10 days and it was a wonderful time just with her. And it was a humbling, beautiful country and eye opening to see how other people live.
That sounds like it was a wonderful bonding time with your daughter. Do you plan to do that again?
This summer, I am planning to take my next child with me on a mission trip to the Philippines.
If you were having coffee with another female dentist who is starting a family - what would you share with her?
Get someone to clean the house. If cooking is not your thing, get help with meals. I do Walmart grocery pickup. Find a good babysitter, even on the weekends, or a find a family member. And don’t feel bad about taking care of yourself.
If you're married, invest in your marriage. Make time for him, so that isn’t an added stress.
Find people that can do things for you that you don’t have time to do and can make your life easier. I tell young moms, your kids love you just for who you are. They don't need another mama — they need you. And you are doing a good job whether you think you are or not.
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