As the professional services senior manager for DENTSPLY Professional, Gail Malone, RDH, BS, sets the clinical education strategy for the company’s preventive product line. She works collaboratively with dentistry’s and dental hygiene’s key opinion leaders to oversee the development and delivery of relevant, evidence-based clinical education programs.
With more than 30 years of experience in clinical practice, dental hygiene education, dental practice management, and dental distribution, Malone brings a unique vision to the dental industry. She believes in the importance of education and currently serves on the Dental Hygiene Advisory Board of Harcum College, the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine Deans’ Advisory Board, and the Dental Assistants Foundation Board. Malone is a former adjunct faculty member at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
How did you make the transition from clinical practice to industry?
Changing my career path occurred in a series of small steps. After completing my bachelor’s degree 10 years after earning my associate’s degree in dental hygiene, I was working part time in private practice and part time as an adjunct faculty member in a dental hygiene program. While I enjoyed this schedule, I felt a strong desire to learn more about the business side of dentistry. For many years, I had worked for a dentist who was very progressive in practice management. He would take the entire staff to practice management courses regularly. I found this aspect of dentistry fascinating and wanted to learn more about it, so I responded to a newspaper employment advertisement for a dental practice management consultant. I was subsequently hired and trained and spent several years consulting in dental practices in the mid-Atlantic region—helping dental teams improve their efficiency, profitability, and overall job satisfaction. It was a great experience. The knowledge I gained in this position provided a foundation for my move into dental distribution, where I spent the next 10 years. Again, these opportunities prepared me for my subsequent position in the corporate side of dental manufacturing.
What is a typical work day like for you?
I am generally in DENTSPLY’s corporate home office two days per week. We have a 2-hour weekly executive staff meeting every Monday morning. The rest of my time spent in the corporate office is filled with meetings and collaborative sessions with other departments within the organization, such as marketing, research and development, regulatory, and quality, as well as with members of my team. I may be asked to evaluate a product in the development process or write a report related to a regulatory requirement. I also engage with my international colleagues to better understand their needs in terms of clinical education materials and programs and how we can best support their efforts. The other three days I work from my home office, interacting with colleagues and team members via Skype, email, or conference calls; providing clinical support; coordinating clinical training events; and overseeing the development of our clinical curriculum to support product sales. I also spend a significant amount of time traveling to dental conferences, corporate meetings, training sessions, and other events, interacting with our key opinion leaders and learning from other dental professionals around the world.
How do you handle the stress that comes with juggling professional, personal, and community responsibilities?
This is an area of constant struggle for me. After almost 20 years, I’m still trying to figure it out! At the beginning of 2015, my position became global, which added a significant level of responsibility to what I do. This change has greatly impacted my ability to participate in community involvement, and I’ve had to temporarily discontinue my volunteer work.
Personally, I’m fortunate to have a wonderful husband who supports me in what I do but also grounds me and helps me stay focused on what’s important. We are both in the dental industry, which is good and bad. He understands what I do, but it makes it easy to blur the lines between our professional and personal lives. We enjoy home do-it-yourself projects and we’re active in our church community. We enjoy entertaining, hosting friends for dinner (especially sushi parties), and traveling together. We do our best to schedule personal/vacation time away at least once per quarter— preferably somewhere warm and sunny!
Which aspects of your job are you most passionate about?
I enjoy overseeing and managing the educational contributions of our clinical education team. The vision for DENTSPLY Clinical Affairs is to create clinical and business success by being the preferred partner and essential resource to professionals and DENTSPLY. It’s fulfilling to see the impact our educational programs have on clinicians, students, and faculty members, and how clinical education contributes to the success of the greater organization. I’m also very passionate about personal and professional growth for members of my team in their respective roles. I’m fortunate to work with a group of talented professionals.
Did you have a mentor who supported you in achieving professional success? If so, how did this person make a difference in your life?
Several people supported me in achieving professional success. The first mentor I had was my father. He constantly encouraged me and told me I could do anything I wanted to as long as I was willing to put in the time and effort. In dentistry, one of my mentors is a pediatric dentist I worked for as a dental assistant. He suggested I pursue dental hygiene as a career. After graduating from dental hygiene school I was fortunate enough to work for several dentists who saw my potential and were willing to invest in me by sending me to professional continuing education courses. They significantly impacted my life by building my confidence and providing opportunities for professional and personal growth. Lastly, like many others, my mentor in education is JoAnn Gurenlian, RDH, MS, PhD. Our paths crossed in the 1980s, and her passion for the dental hygiene profession has continued to inspire me ever since.
What motivated you to become involved in providing dental services to the underserved in your community?
I first became interested in serving patients in need because I wanted to re-engage my clinical skills. Working full-time in industry, I missed the one-on-one patient interaction I had while practicing clinical dental hygiene. In the volunteer environment, I always gained much more from my patients than I ever gave to them. At the time when I started volunteering I was also doing quite a bit of lecturing—providing continuing courses to practicing clinicians and clinical education to students. Volunteering my time gave me the opportunity to use and gain experience with the products and devices I was speaking about, thus, enhancing my knowledge (and credibility) from a clinical perspective.