Practice: Center for Esthetic Dentistry
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Dr. Nancy Summer Lerch is an evangelist for women in dentistry. “Being a woman in dentistry is a very great asset. Like any asset it’s something to be shared. It’s a very, very good thing,” she said.
Dr. Lerch explained, “Dentistry is a great career for women because we can arrange our career and work time any we want. It is set up to be very beneficial for women in juggling family in terms of managing time and resources. There are a lot more serious, seasoned male dentists looking for female associates to augment their practices. New female dentists can write their tickets any way they want. The opportunities are abundant.”
Dr. Lerch is very familiar with how those opportunities can be utilized. “I rented space from a dentist friend in his off hours and saw my own patients on a $10,000 loan from a bank in 1982,” she said.
From that modest loan, she built a thriving practice and today she has one of the most acclaimed dental practices in New Haven, Connecticut.
Her practice has received the “Best of New Haven County” award by the regional Advocate newspaper for eight years running.
She has had articles featuring her practice and cosmetic dentistry in the New Haven Register and has been consulted by national magazines like Vogue and Redbook, for articles they were writing about cosmetic dentistry.
Even given her excellence and her accolades, Dr. Lerch knew something needed to change in her practice to boost it to the next level. She wanted her practice to become more organized and productive than it was. She wanted to grow but didn’t know what was stopping her.
“My production had flatlined. I wanted to know how to handle that…what to do to expand my practice to the next level,” she said. With that in mind, Dr. Lerch hired a practice management consulting firm to help her achieve these new goals.
“The biggest difference consulting has made is the change in my staff. They got properly trained and grew in competency. I also moved my hygienist into the practice manager position so now I don’t have to sweat the small stuff. The management consultant saw that she knew how to run the office and train the staff. Now I have someone to handle the day to day management of the practice and staff for me,” she declared confidently.
Dr. Lerch has now been in practice for 22 years after graduating from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in 1982 and spending two years at the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry in Family Dentistry Residency. Her undergraduate degree was obtained from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
She is also very active in and dedicated to ensuring the future of ethical dentistry in Connecticut. She is the immediate Past President of the New England Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and attained her Accreditation in Cosmetic Dentistry in 1990, given by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). She is the fourth woman to ever do so. She now serves as an official Examiner and mentor for the Accreditation process. She also served as editor of the AACD Journal from 1992 through 1994.
She loves reading and swimming and being with people. She is also a wine and food enthusiast. She has a son and daughter, ages 10 and 18 respectively. She, along with her husband and children, ski as a family and her son recently came in 8th in the state of Connecticut for children 10 and under at a major skiing tournament. Her family has a camp in the Adirondacks that they’ve owned for nearly 100 years. Her time with her family, enjoying the fruits of her labor, has undergone a nice change since implementing the systems provided by her consultant. Increased quality of life went hand in hand with increased production.
She advises women dentists to “Get into the community and mingle. It is totally possible for any woman to do this. Being gentle and nurturing can help a woman start any practice she wants. It’s still a bit of a novelty. People are surprised at the difference between a male and a female dentist.”
You can learn more about Dr. Lerch and her practice at www.theartofsmiles.com.