An Open Letter to My Dental Team

Maggie Augustyn, DDS


Call it what you will: unprecedented, unusual, extraordinary. No one in the history of humanity has had to endure anything like the period of time we are facing at the moment. We are the first and, God willing, the only ones who will have to muster through such difficult circumstances. 

If you are human, like me, you too are experiencing a commotion of undefined concern. It’s a rollercoaster of new emotions that make us uneasy and drag us down. They have messed with our identities and made us redefine our roles and maybe even question the very value systems we used to have in moving one foot in front of the other. We have moments of feeling powerless, grief, confusion, and loneliness. Some can arise every day, while others cycle on some sort of schedule.

If we’re willing to change the narrative, we can use this time to strengthen the bond with our kids and spouses, dabble in some cooking, and curse doing the dishes multiple times each day. 

This is an ideal time to find within ourselves what is important and maybe create a pledge of what we will and won’t promise to change once we return back to normal.

It would be natural to feel uncertain about what it’ll fell like when you fully get back to work. We have been home for several weeks, and staying at home feels more familiar than it ever has before. It can quite possibly make you wonder if the stay-at-home life is one we’d like to continue moving forward.

But I am here to remind you that despite what it may feel like right now, despite how much we’ve gotten used to our new routine, fully getting back to work will be the highlight of this year.

Put things in perspective. Many of us have decades of experience. We’ve been productive in dentistry for much of our adult life. Returning back to work will feel as familiar as it did a couple of months ago.

Though the first few 6 am mornings may be difficult, the shower will wake you right up, and you’ll be more prepared than you think to take on the day at the office. The fear of what it may be like to return to work does not define our reality. Fear is an emotion that can be tracked, thought out, and combated over time with new experiences.

There are other fears that I’m sure you’re facing: fears of guaranteed hours, fears of not having a consistent income, and, most of all, fear of contagion. And those fears, as real as they are to you, equally disturb me. Having considered all of them, I have found ways to combat mine. And in that, I have decided to present to you a list of promises that I will tirelessly fight to keep in proving a safe, stable environment where we and our patients all can flourish upon our return.

I have taken the free time we’ve been presented with to listen to and participate in webinars and continuing education courses. I’ve listened to podcasts and have finished many books on leadership and work ethic. I’ve been taking notes. I’ve been working on a post-COVID business plan. I’ve been making out in my head and on paper all the minutia of what it’ll take to make our practice a safe and stable environment. And with all of that newly gathered information, I feel refreshed and more excited than one might think to come back to work and to put all I’ve learned into practice.

If you’ve known me, you know that I’m a problem solver. I do not shy away from hard work. In fact, hard work is what defines me. I do not rest on my laurels, and I’m always in motion. I find it difficult to sit still and relax. I have been planning and predicting. I’ve been writing. And, I’ve been sorting the ideas of how to make our office well prepared in facing the fallout from the virus and a stronger team.

I’ve also spent countless hours considering different types of schedules and have reached out to experts in various fields asking what would work best in the future. I’ve been paying attention to the news and to what our patients have asked and said about us. I’ve thought out various strategies and have grown them in my mind in various directions. I have worked hard. 

Having said that, here is what I want to tell you. I’ve got this. I will be your safe space and your support system. I want to be both a shoulder you can cry on and someone you can laugh with. I am ready and refreshed to return to work, full speed ahead. I am not afraid of what the future will bring. A self-proclaimed problem solver, I am looking forward to exercising my creativity in working out and overcoming whatever obstacles the next few months will bring. I will work tirelessly and fight courageously to find us solutions.

Even more importantly, I can’t wait to see you. I can’t wait to hug you. I can’t wait to show you how grateful I am to have you on my side. With my whole being, I want to express to you my gratitude and my vulnerable dependence upon your hard work. With time, I am looking to reward you for the zest you will bring upon return to the office.  As hard as it may seem to imagine right now, the hard truth is that we will all grow from this experience. We are in this together, and if you need me to, I will carry you.

Here comes the most important part. I expect you hold me up to those promises.

I miss you very much.

Very Sincerely Yours,

Dr. Augustyn is a practicing general dentist. She earned a DDS from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also has completed the course sequence with the Dawson Academy’s continuum in oral equilibration and cosmetic dentistry. She completes a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education each year as well, including orthodontics, implantology, periodontics, prosthodontics, and cosmetics. Dr. Augustyn is an avid writer. Additionally, she is a moderator on the Dental Nachos. She can be reached at

Related Articles

As Dental Offices Close, Try Not to Panic

Dentistry Made Me Hate People—For a Moment

Become a Fee-for-Service Office? Not Me