When Elizabeth Cord, FAADOM, learned she had been named the American Association of Dental Office Management’s (AADOM) 2018 Practice Administrator of the Year, it felt unreal at first.

“It was really, really shocking when they called my name,” recalls Elizabeth, of Clackamas, Oregon. “I was pretty much in awe. I had both hands over my mouth to keep my jaw from hitting the floor as I walked up to the stage.”

After giving the news some time to sink in, Elizabeth says she feels honored to be chosen from among her fellow AADOM members. “There are so many amazing people who are so good at their jobs,” she explains. “Everybody is really an overachiever, so to be recognized was just the most amazing feeling ever.”


‘Amazing’ Recognition through AADOM

The Practice Administrator of the Year is selected each year by AADOM based on their leadership, community involvement and commitment to pursuing continuing education. Candidates are also evaluated on their role in increasing practice efficiency and revenue, or implementing technology or marketing strategies in the dental practice.

The winner receives an engraved award plus $1,000, lifetime AADOM membership and free registration to the 2019 Dental Management Conference. The winner also will be featured on the cover of The Observer magazine.

AADOM’s 2018 Practice Administrator of the Year announcement was made July 19 during AADOM’s 14th Annual Dental Management Conference, held July 19-21, in San Antonio, Texas. During the conference, Elizabeth also attended a dinner held in her honor. There, she was able to meet and interact with AADOM’s leadership, as well as some speakers.

“It was really amazing,” she says. “I got to talk with some of the leading consultants and lecturers in our field, and it was very personal. There was such a great feeling of camaraderie for everyone involved.”

Elizabeth has been an AADOM member since 2012. Additionally, she has attended AADOM conferences since 2013 and has been an AADOM Fellow since 2014. For Elizabeth, camaraderie is one of the biggest draws of being an AADOM member and of attending its annual meeting.

“Attending my first national conference was an awakening for me. You don’t understand it until you have experienced it,” says Elizabeth, who is pictured above with fellow members of the newly launched Portland, Oregon, chapter.

“You can cut it with a knife, the feeling of energy and motivation and friendship,” says Elizabeth, president of the Portland chapter. “It’s the best conference I have ever been to.”


Finding Her Place in Dental Office Administration

Elizabeth graduated from the Computer Dynamics Institute’s dental assisting program in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 1997. She then began her career in the dental field in 1998. After working as a dental assistant for an office in Chesapeake, Virginia, for two years, she transitioned to working at the front desk. Once she got her feet wet in all aspects of office administration, she knew she’d found the right fit.

“I really loved doing it, and when I got a taste of it, I didn’t want to leave,” Elizabeth says. “This is the right place for me.”

In 2010, Elizabeth transitioned into the role of Office Administrator at the office of Ryan F. Mueller, D.M.D., in Portland, Oregon, her current employer. For Elizabeth, the most rewarding aspect of office administration is being the first person to greet patients as they enter the office. She’s also the last to interact with them before they leave.

“It’s a really important position,” she says. “I have the opportunity to make every single person feel special when they come into this office.”


Sharing Lessons Learned in the Role

Over the years, Elizabeth has learned a few key life lessons to share with her fellow practice administrators, and with those who are considering stepping into the role:

Be Positive

Her first piece of advice is to be positive, especially when interacting with patients and dental team members. “I see it every day: how much it makes a difference when I’m positive and I have a smile on my face. I also see that I can bring smiles to other people’s faces just by talking to them,” she says. “Positivity is such a great motivational tool for those around you.”

Keep Learning

Secondly, Elizabeth touts the importance of continued learning. She can speak to the benefit of utilizing the DALE Foundation’s resources — “such a huge help.” Specifically, Elizabeth has completed the three dental office management courses offered through the DALE Foundation in pursuit of Fellowship in AADOM.

“Learn everything that you can,” Elizabeth advises. “Any opportunity you get for continuing education, take it. Because it doesn’t matter what it is, you will always learn something for the future. The more you know, the better you will be for yourself and for your employer.”

Stay Engaged

There’s another key benefit to continuing your education, Elizabeth adds: preventing burnout. “I’ve seen a lot of people get to that point where, maybe 10 or 12 years into their career, they feel like they’re not going anywhere,” she says. “I felt like that at one point, too. But if you have that outside learning, it gives you more motivation to do your job better. It gets you excited in your career again.”



AADOM names its Practice Administrator of the Year each year during its annual conference. To learn more about AADOM, visit www.dentalmanagers.com.