Dr. Neepa Modi, DDS – On being self aware, confident, women in dentistry, and leadership
Dr. Modi was raised in Port Huron, Michigan, where her family still lives today. Growing up, Dr. Modi excelled in school, as well as piano and competitive tennis. She went on to attend the University of Michigan, where she completed her undergraduate studies in 1999, majoring in Psychology and Biology. She then entered U. of Michigan’s Dental School, which is one of the most respected and highest ranked dental schools in the country.
After she graduated in 2003, Dr. Modi moved to Chicago and has made it her home ever since. She has worked for over 10 years in the Chicago area and is very passionate about this city. To read more, please follow the link: http://dentistbridgeportchicago.com/about-us/
To see a full episode (and it’s a great episode to watch) please click on the link:
Question1: Let’s talk about your upbringing, anything that specifically attracted you as a kid?
My father was a physician in the medical field. Like any immigrant family, my family valued education a lot. Getting good grades and being really involved in school activities were expected. As a result, we made sure we were on top of things. I was largely inspired by my orthodontist. In addition, I had a lot of older family friends who had gone into dental school and were starting their practice. I was shadowing them and that’s how I learned that orthodontics was for me.
Question 2: Is there anything that your mentor taught you about dentistry?
He probably doesn’t know he had an impact on my life. I always liked the aura and presence he emanated whenever I walk into his office. Also, I remember him being really cool and confident. As a child, he wore crazy socks too.
Question 3: How was dental school? Did you ever have a thought of owning a practice while being a student?
My dental experience was pretty unusual. The school’s program is really good and they really want you to succeed. The norm was to work for awhile after dental school and then get a practice. Now the trend is towards corporate practices. I didn’t really think that far ahead. For me, I wanted to open an office after graduating from dental school.
Question 4: Let’s talk about the lack of business education at dental schools? Should the schools adjust to the new reality?
A couple of business classes wouldn’t hurt. But I believe the business aspect of it really comes from within. But it’s always important to have a combination of both. The business skills that I picked up mainly comes from learning on the job.
Question 5: Did you always plan to be a general dentist or did you have plans to pursue a specialty?
I always wanted to be a general dentist. During dental school, my father passed away because of cancer. When I passed that era, I just wanted to be done with dental school. If things were different, I might have taken up a specialty.
Question 6: After dental school, did you take any time of? Did you travel?
After I graduated, I wanted to take 3 months off. There is no hurry to get a job. I went back to my mom’s place and did whatever I want. My mom was very supportive. I was looking for jobs in the east coast but none of the jobs were worth moving for. And then I got my first job in Chicago and I’ve been here ever since.
Question 7: What did you learn from taking 3 months off after finishing the dental school?
I just needed a break, and I don’t think it had to be learning anything. Dentistry isn’t just dental school. It just took me some time to put everything together in practice to feel ready.
Question 8: Where does your passion for traveling come from?
When my father passed away, during dental school, we suddenly lost my cousin. My cousin was the same age as I was and we were really close. It derailed me for awhile. What I got out of it was that I really had the mentality that I could die tomorrow and I really want to live the way I want to live. I tried new activities and cultivated new hobbies besides just working. I loved it. It made me realize who I am and who I want to be.
Question 9: As a dentist usually being type A, how do you assemble a team and delegate? How do you travel during construction of your office?
My experience in my 20s taught me to let go of some things that don’t make a difference. I might get beige cabinets instead of white ones but that’s not going to hinder patients from coming. I have learned to look at the big picture instead of worrying about the little details which has kept me grounded.
Question 10: Who comes to your mind first when you think about successful people?
Both the Obamas. Both have worked so hard to become who they are today. They use their success for good. They do what they think is right within themselves and their daughters. I believe that’s what the trifecta for success is. Not just being good at your job, but establishing good relationships with your family, friends and also the community.
Question 11: Where do you learn your leadership skills from? Or it comes from within? What makes you unique?
The typical stereotype of a woman boss is someone who is demanding and mean. I have just gotten lucky. I have girls who have started on our first day and I hope they stay with me. I hope to reward them in ways that don’t just have monetary value. I strive to foster group dynamics within the office. At our practice’s one year anniversary, we closed the office early that day and went to celebrate with manicures and pedicures. Also, I get the team involved with the decisions that I make. I let them look at our layout of the office and ask them for their opinion. I strive to make them feel invested in the office’s decisions.
Question 12: What is the culture of Bridgeport Smiles? What makes it so unique?
I feel like a proud mama when my staff learn different cultures from each other. My chinese assistant would teach my Spanish assistant chinese and I would overhear their conversations. I try to lead by example. When I expect my girls to be in at 9.30, I’m also in the office at 9.30. However, I believe work should never be the end all.
Question 13: What is your definition of Success?
Most people tend to equate success with money and power. I believe success is a state of mind. Achieving success means when you have decided to do something and figuring out what the steps are to get there. Success also means maintaining a balance in one’s life too. Are my friends and family supporting me? Am I satisfying my patients? Is my staff happy?
Question 14: How do you find confidence?
Part of it is learning and being willing to learn from others who have gone through a similar path.You can’t be confident in something that you don’t know anything about. As I’ve learned it from others, my confidence kicks in and I can also add my own views and go forward.
Questions 15: Failure and setbacks in life, how do you deal with it?
Failure has to happen to everyone. If you haven’t failed before, it shows that you’re not trying hard enough. Failure is learning and teaches you lessons that you don’t forget. Also, failure teaches you to appreciate what you’ve got and what you have to do in order to succeed. It’s a labor of love.
Question 16: What advice would you give to dental student if you would seat down face to face?
I would tell them to know what they are really getting themselves into. Dentistry is in such a transition phase. It’s not the same as the generation before and it’s also not going to be the same in the next generation. Hence, it’s really important to know what you are getting yourself into. Do you want to see patients? Or do you want to get into the business side?
Question 17: Is self awareness important?
It’s a learning process again and I’m always learning about myself every day.