'Stepping Out' course: Lisa Marie Spradley encourages dental teams to strive for a career, not a job

March 16, 2016
Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, review Lisa Marie Spradley course that encourages dental teams to strive for a career, not a job.


In a motivational interview, former California Governor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "You can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets." With that in mind, where do you want to be in your career? Where do you see you and your practice in six months, one year, or five years and beyond? Whether you want to move beyond clinical, start writing or speaking, start a study club, or achieve any other practice-related or personal achievement, you have to determine your dream and work to make it a reality.

This doesn't come easily, but Lisa Marie Spradley, FAADOM, created a program titled "Stepping Out" to help you make your dreams a reality. Lisa designed the program to encourage dental team members to find their passion, and then make the commitment to achieve both individual and practice goals. After participating in the program, Lisa invites participants to:

  • Define what you and the practice are about. What do you tell people that you are or how do you explain what you do?
  • Discover what makes you happy.
  • Determine the whys-why do you want to be a certain type of person, work in or have a certain type of practice? Acknowledge the reason for purpose and begin to work toward a goal.
  • Establish goals-have short- and long-term personal and professional goals that monitor success by being measurable, relevant, and achievable. Goals provide road maps and a compass to continue the journey.

By defining goals, participants can take steps toward having fulfilling careers and lives. Lisa believes that her program is perfect for anyone who's seeking a career rather than just a "job." She provides a motivational program with the resources to help people achieve more by benefiting themselves and others.

"Stepping Out" is primarily a keynote presentation, but it does have a number of activities. It is different from other keynote presentations in that Lisa roams the venue encouraging participants to discuss ideas and motivations for their dreams. She originally developed the program for business team members but quickly discovered that all dental team members could benefit. She wants everyone to know that they have valuable information to share with one another and the world at large.

Lisa was an office administrator in a dental practice, and over the years she became known as the "Front Desk Lady," even creating a title for herself, FDL. FDL was created as a result of her employer not knowing what Lisa did, and telling patients that Lisa was the office front desk lady. Lisa was not happy with this description since it implied that she was a "piece of furniture." So she decided to create her own title, Lisa Marie Spradley, FDL! Her job description included communications, collections, and coordination of the practice.

From that beginning Lisa was involved with the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM), and she eventually earned fellowship in the association and is a lifetime member and AADOM Ambassador. In 2014, Lisa was honored by AADOM as the Office Manager of the Year for helping her practice survive both a fire and Hurricane Katrina, being an active AADOM member since 2007, and acting selflessly and putting patients first.

On February 8, 2014, Lisa's life was forever changed when an automobile accident claimed the life of her 23-year-old daughter, Elaina. Elaina had recently graduated from college, married, and had a wonderful position with a management company.

Lisa had been writing, speaking, and consulting for a number of years, but the death of her daughter pushed her forward. Lisa felt that if Elaina could live her life fearlessly, never stumble over challenges but meet them head on, move forward whether she won or lost, and accomplish things many 23-year-olds only dream of, then Lisa could do no less.

She has written an e-book, "Press '3' to File a Claim: Rediscovering the Art of Exceptional Customer Service" that brings customer service back into dentistry. She has also written numerous articles for dental publications. Recognized as one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry in 2015, Lisa educates dental teams to focus on the patient, thus increasing in-office referrals and production.

"Stepping Out" developed from her experiences and desire to help the dental community achieve joy.

In addition to "Stepping Out," she has developed a program called "Strategies, Skillsets, and Smiles: The Front Desk Lady's Tools" that discusses phone etiquette, practicing patience with patients, scheduling and practice metrics, and ways to build lasting patient relationships. As more hygienists move beyond clinical and into administrative roles, Lisa finds that the information presented in "Strategies" can help with this career transition. She has found dental professionals to be a very caring and giving group of people, and she wants to honor them and her daughter by giving back and influencing as many as she can.

Lisa describes herself as loyal and motivated. She enjoys meeting new people and traveling, but does not like riding in taxis! Although she has no desire to become a hygienist, Lisa has a deep respect for hygienists' roles in providing patient education and care. She understands that they truly care about their patients and providing them with the best care. She wishes she had become involved in the organized dentistry community sooner than she did, but is very happy to be part of the profession now.

Writing the e-book helped Lisa during the difficult days following her daughter's death. As a result, she believes in "paying it forward," and portions of the book sales go to two charities. One is a scholarship established at the University of Southern Mississippi's School of Business, Tourism Management, called the Elaina Renee Spradley Skinner (Sweetpea) Scholarship. It was started to help USM students in the same way Elaina was helped with a scholarship when she attended. The other charity is the Southern Pines Animal Shelter. Elaina had both a rescue dog, Gizmo, and a rescue cat, Vinny, and the shelter encourages responsible pet ownership.

Participants in Lisa's programs will enjoy the energy and self-discovery that she provides. Writing one's whys and determining ways to achieve goals illuminate paths for learning and growth. Dental team members want to achieve the best for patients and themselves. By helping others, Lisa believes we help ourselves. Taking your hands out of your pockets and finding out who you want to be in life with hard work and a refusal to give up encourages all of us to set and accomplish goals.

For more information about Lisa or her programs, contact [email protected] or www.frontdesklady.com.

Thought for the month: Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring to your own life.-Arnold Schwarzenegger. RDH

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected].