Family and Flexibility: Putting the Personal into Practice
"Dental school just gives you the icing. You need the cake. And that’s a lifelong journey."
A second-generation dentist, Dr. Hana Rashid, DDS, didn’t necessarily know as a child that dentistry was her calling. “People will ask me, ‘If your mom wasn’t a dentist, would you have become a dentist?’ Who knows?” she laughs.
What ultimately drew her to dentistry as a career was her connection to the patients. Helping out at the front desk of her mother’s practice, Beautiful Smiles Dentistry in Roseville, CA, she came to know them not just as cases, but as people.
“I grew up with the mentality that our patients are our friends and family,” she explains. “They come to chat and visit. They aren’t just teeth walking in the door, they’re multidimensional human beings. And that personal experience allowed me to solidify that, yeah, I do want to become a dentist.”
It wasn’t always a given that she would end up in the practice that her mother, Dr. Ibtisam Rashid, opened in 1998. After graduation from the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Dr. Hana decided to do a one-year general practice residency to hone her skills and confidence. She also worked in other practices to gain experience in busier environments with different mentors. But the relaxed, intimate atmosphere of Beautiful Smiles made her feel as at home as it did her patients.
“I quit one practice because at one point I realized, ‘I don’t even know the patients’ names,’” she admits. “Whereas in this practice, my mom’s practice, I knew everything about them. I knew their milestones and they were happy to share that with us.”
The Business of Beautiful Smiles
Now the owner of Beautiful Smiles since 2016, Dr. Hana pairs her laid-back, conversational approach with leading-edge technology to make dental care as efficient, comfortable, and worry-free as possible. Offering Invisalign, same-day CEREC crowns as well as other cosmetic and general dentistry services, Beautiful Smiles focuses on each patient as an individual. “That’s just how I always like to be a doctor,” she says. “It makes me more well-rounded, getting to know my patients rather than just their teeth.”
It boosts her business, too. “We have people look us up for one-day crowns because they don’t have time to deal with temporaries,” she notes. “And then they end up switching to us.”
The time she spent in the front office gave her a business advantage as well.
“My mom taught me the business side, with insurance and whatnot,” she says. “That part is not taught in school.”
The creativity needed to come up with treatment options for patients’ specific needs is another part of dentistry’s appeal for Dr. Hana. “In school, you’re taught ideal dentistry,” she says. “But I have yet to do ideal dentistry. In real life, cavities are different shapes and sizes; there is no cookie cutter. And the patients are all different—the emotional aspect kicks into gear, as well as the financial aspect. You can line up a bunch of dentists and come up with a couple of different treatment plans, and nobody’s alike. But there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what I like about dentistry. It’s very flexible.”
“You can never stop learning,” she continues. “Dental school doesn’t teach you everything. You can’t possibly learn everything in 4 years. So you have to be willing to spend time and money to do continuing education.”
“Dental school just gives you the icing. You need the cake. And that’s a lifelong journey. Every patient is a new experience.”
Staying Flexible for the Future
Dr. Hana also appreciates the flexibility that comes with having her own practice in terms of scheduling. Not just the freedom to chat with patients—which, she confesses, occasionally gets her some prompts from her staff—but also to change days if needed. She points to her decision to get rid of Saturday hours based on the high cancellation rate. “I was so burnt out by it,” she admits. “And we didn’t lose anybody because of it.”
Now, Beautiful Smiles is preparing to welcome the next generation: Dr. Hana’s first child, due later this year. “We have a huge office for a small practice,” Dr. Rashid says, “so we started making one of the rooms the official baby room. My mom still has her license, so she can be here and I can work part-time. That’s the thing about dentistry. You don’t have to work 5 days a week if you don’t want to.”
But her last piece of advice for new dentists is quite literally about being flexible.
“Make sure you stretch,” she says. “Always stretch. Dentists work on one side the whole day, and that’s what ultimately puts a lot of dentists out of commission, back-related, shoulder-related, neck-related injuries. So, it’s very important to do some stretching between patients or after work.”