Dr. Catrise Austin
Title: Founder, Owner- New York City Cosmetic and General Dentistry
Education: Undergrad – University of Michigan/BA in Psychology
University of Maryland – Doctorate of Dental Surgery
Previous Job Experience: New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
HelloBeautiful: Briefly describe your day to day activities and responsibilities as Owner of NYC Cosmetic and General Dentistry.
Dr. Catrise Austin: My day to day duties include: Providing full service dental care from basic check-up and teeth cleanings to smile makeover services. In addition to serving my clients as a provider, I also manage and/or oversee all aspects of the operations of my dental business from staff performance, customer service inquiries, sales and marketing and financials.
HB: What prompted your interest in dentistry?
CA: At the age of 15, dentistry totally changed my life! Growing up, I had less than a perfect smile and was teased constantly. It made me shy and truly made me an introverted only child. Improving my smile with braces in high school helped me gain confidence, improved my self-esteem, and gave me the enthusiasm and energy to want to improve lives like dentistry changed my life. So I decided in high school that THIS was my passion and I followed the path to go on to pursue my dreams. My mission is to tell everyone that their smiles can change their lives too in ways that they never dreamed personally, socially and even help them in their careers.
HB: What suggestions regarding networking would you give to those seeking to work in this particular field?
CA: Dentistry is a career that you MUST have a true passion for. I advise that it is an excellent career for those who are interested in healthcare, who recognizes the importance of oral health, who enjoys working with their hands, who enjoy medicine and science, and enjoy the luxury of a flexible schedule. There are many specialty fields in dentistry, auxiliary careers like dental assisting, dental hygiene, and administrative opportunities, as well as teaching opportunities, public health opportunities, and even opportunities to serve in the armed forces as an officer or civilian. I would recommend exploring this career by asking if you can volunteer with your family dentist or by seeking internship opportunities. There are several yearly dental conventions throughout the USA; some are open to the general public. It can be a great intro to the field of dentistry and offer networking opportunities as well.
HB: What are the major challenges in your role as a dentist and an entrepreneur and what solutions have you deemed best to handle these challenges?
CA: The major challenges that I faced are balancing my many roles. From 1998 to 2013, I have been a solo act, running the business and single-handedly serving my many clients. The business of dentistry isn’t really a core curriculum in dental school so I have had to hire dental business consultants over the years to help educate me on managing the business. Many times, staff and patients don’t understand that although the job is gratifying in many ways, at the end of the day, it’s a for profit business. The staff has to have vision and drive to perform at peak levels and patients have to respect and value our services. My team meets on a daily and monthly basis to see how we can improve the business. But I’m not the average dentist. Outside of running the business, I’m a national spokesperson for Colgate Total, an author, a professional speaker, and enjoy a social life as well. How do I handle it all? I make time to relax when the pressure mounts to avoid burnout. Those that know me well know that at any given moment you can find locally at a nice restaurant or a spa; or sometimes on a whim you may find me abroad on any island or continent. I know how to balance me work-play life!
HB: What would you contribute your level of success to?
CA: Early in my career I had a vision of being my own boss and being a celebrity dentist. I believed in myself and had lots of confidence. I knew that despite doubts from some of my friends and family back home in Flint, MI, if I focused, I had the strength and perseverance to do anything I want. The same holds true today. I’ve survived 15 years in business in a field dominated by men who don’t look like me.
My success comes from constantly making goals with timelines. Networking and marketing has been KEY for me. I’m everywhere!!!! In addition, I’ve tried to surround myself with a team of advisers and staff who share common vision and who can make me better. I really strive to be the best at me craft, it’s important to me because I’m so passionate about what I do.
HB: Any advice for younger colleagues?
1. Believe in yourself and your skills. Know that if you’ve made it through rigorous dental school curriculum, you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to.
2. Explore all networking possibilities. You never know what opportunities are out there. I lucked upon being the “dentist to the stars” simply by being a social butterfly in NYC and developing contacts within the entertainment industry. Never leave home without a business card! I feel naked without one. Be sure to follow-up and build relationships with people who you make an honest connection with. Networking is pointless unless you are building meaningful relationships.
3. If you are interested in starting a dental business, utilize your resources. There are small business resources and dental industry support organizations that want to help your grow your business. Don’t be afraid to step out on your own, it’s very rewarding and it feels great to have control over your destiny.
4. Create the hype! With today social media outlets, this is easier than ever.
5. Never stop learning. Stay on top of what’s new in the dental field. It’s a field that is constantly growing and changing. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself lost in the game.
6. Don’t let the field consume you, have a balanced life. It’s a demanding field. As caregivers, it’s easy to get consumed with taking care of others and forget the most important person—YOU! Take care of your health, enjoy family and friends, and enjoy life.
Keep Up With Dr. Austin:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/drcatriseaustin or @drcatriseaustin