Dr. Naz Haque, who currently has twenty years of experience, began her dentistry career as a Biology major at UCLA. After completing her degree, Dr. Haque received her Doctor of Dental Surgery at NYU and went back home to complete her residency at the LAC+USC Rancho Los Amigos. She became the Chief of Dental Services at LAC+USC Rancho Los Amigos Hospital and also educated at the institution’s Dentistry Department. While Dr. Haque was working and teaching there, she published multiple articles that helped continue and advance the field of dentistry. Currently, Dr. Haque practices at Market Place Dentistry in Tustin, CA, where she offers all major procedures such as root canals, extrations, cavity fillings and more. She also is a certified Invisalign Provider and Certified Consultant for the California Association of Dental Plans (CADP). Orange Coast Magazine has also recognized Dr. Naz Haque as one of the “Top Dentists of OC in 2018.”
In addition to currently practicing at Market Place Dentistry, Dr. Haque also is a Senior Product Engineer at Edwards Lifesciences. In this position, she combines advanced engineering and design principles to construct new medical innovations to solve common health problems and improve people’s lives that live with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. She also tests and develops products and technologies that make surgical monitoring and critical care faster and more thorough; improving the level of care to whoever uses it.
Dr. Haque is also on staff at multiple hospitals: Corona Regional Hospital, La Veta Surgery Center, and St. Joseph Hospital. She enjoys working at hospitals because some patients need emergency dental work done when they come in with a life threatening injury. She enjoys treating patients of all ages, but she has a special spot in her heart for children and special smiles with special needs, which is why she enjoys working with them in her practice.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you started at your company?
I began my dental career at NYU where I received my Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.). Prior to that, I went to UCLA where I got my Bachelor’s in Biology. After NYU I wanted to come back home so I finished my residency at the world renowned LAC+USC Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. After I finished my residency, I was promoted to Chief of Dental Surgery and lectured in the Dentistry Department as well. While I was there I also published multiple articles on advancements in the dental world. After over a dozen years at LAC+USC Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, I wanted to step away from instruction and focus solely on treating patients so I began practicing at Market Place Dentistry in Tustin, CA where I do all procedures from root canals to dental implants. I am also on staff at Corona Regional Hospital, La Veta Surgery Center, and St. Joseph Hospital. I also love helping create the future of dental and health technology so I am a Senior Product Engineer at Edwards Lifesciences where I improve the lives of people living with structural heart disease, critical care, and surgical monitoring.
What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur, and why?
I think the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur are customer service, ability to learn and business management skills. Customer service is important because most businesses are all about the the relationship with customers. If you are not kind and welcoming then no one will want to patronize your place of business. For example, if I did not acknowledge a patient of mine and only gave them the bare minimum of care then they will most likely no come back. The ability to learn is also important because everything these days, especially in the business world, is always changing. If you are unable to adapt to these frequent changes then your business will be left in the dust. A good businessperson will always try to find the next big thing. This also ties in to business management skills. You must know what is working and what isn’t and change your model to fit what you believe the public needs. If I notice that Invisalign is selling much more than braces then I shift my advertisements and customer suggestions to that instead of braces.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue developing new methods for Edwards Lifesciences to make people’s lives easier and more fulfilling. I would also like to continue helping the patients of Corona Regional Hospital, La Veta Surgery Center, and St. Joseph Hospital because some patients need emergency dental work done when they come in with a life threatening injury. I also think about the possibility of going back to instructing at a college dental school or hospital because I enjoyed teaching the dentists of tomorrow. Since I love traveling, I also think about traveling the world educating and treating patients who need dental service but do not have access or the means for proper dental work.
How have the pandemic and lockdown affected you?
The pandemic has affected all facets of life for everyone; dentistry is no different. We were unable to see patients in person because of the lockdown so I was stuck at home just like everyone else. I kept myself busy by researching the newest advancements in dentistry and thinking of ways on how to apply that to my patients when I eventually come back. I was also working from home for Edwards Lifesciences so that kept me busy. When everything opened back up again I was so glad to get back to helping people. I enjoyed spending time with my family at home but I was itching to get back to being a dentist.
How do you separate yourself from your competitors?
There are thousands of dentists in the United States and around the world. All of us have a similar, basic education but one of the keys to distinguish ourselves is to learn more than we are required to. Not only am I a dentist at multiple hospitals, but I also am involved in producing and testing new advances in dentistry technology. It is also important to be friendly and personable so that your patients feel comfortable with you. When you take the time to get to know your patients, they are more likely to trust you and feel comfortable discussing their dental needs with you. Some dentists do not take the time to properly care for people and only see them as a set of teeth.
What were the top three mistakes you made starting your business, and what did you learn from them?
One of the mistakes I made when becoming a dentist is I focused too much on the technical aspects of dentistry and not enough on marketing and business management. This led to me having a hard time finding patients when I first started out. I’ve since learned that it’s important to focus on all aspects of running a successful business, not just the technical skills. Another mistake I made was not setting up a proper accounting system from the beginning. This led to me making some costly mistakes with my finances that could have been easily avoided. I’ve since learned the importance of having a good accounting system in place to keep track of all income and expenses. Finally, I made the mistake of not networking enough when I first started my business. I was so focused on seeing patients and building my business that I didn’t take the time to network and build relationships with other professionals. I’ve since learned that networking is essential for growing your business and finding new patients.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges has been the pandemic and adjusting to the new normal. It has gone smoother as of late but after the lockdown, when everything opened back up, it was hard to get into get into a groove because things were always changing thanks to the waves of Covid and it’s variants. But vaccines and masking have allowed us to fall into old habits with slight tweaks. Another challenge is seeing people who have been abused or have a serious injury. When I see someone who is hurt, all I want to do is help but I have to be careful not to get too emotionally attached or else it will hinder my ability to help. The best way I’ve found to deal with it is to remind myself that I am there for a reason; to do my best to help them heal physically.
What are you learning now? Why is that important?
As I have said before, the perpetual willingness to learn is one of the most important factors in business and life in general. I do my best to keep up with the latest advancements in dentistry and health technology since I am a Senior Product Engineer at Edwards Lifesciences. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate so it is hard to keep up with everything while also balancing my other work obligations and home life but it keeps me busy. Lately, I have been learning about new technology for root canals to make it easier to perform and less painful for the patient.
What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
One dentistry-related productivity tip that I always swear by is to make sure that you have the right technology in place to help you stay organized and on track. This can include anything from a simple dental software program to more complex systems that help you manage appointments, patient records, and billing. Having the right tools in place will help you work more efficiently and help you avoid potential problems down the road. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Dentists are often very busy people, and trying to do everything on your own can lead to burnout. If you have a staff member who is willing to lend a hand, or if you need to hire someone, it will be a big help physically and mentally.
What helps you stay driven and motivated to keep going in your business?
Providing for and making my family proud are a couple of things that keep me going. I also think about the people I have helped and will help in the future. Some of them have been badly injured or abused so I feel good about making them feel better about the way they look or repairing their teeth when an unfortunate accident happens. Everyone uses their mouth everyday whether it is for eating, speaking or even simply smiling. I want to make sure that my patients can do all of those things with confidence. It is very rewarding to see the change in someone’s demeanor after they’ve had dental work done. Knowing that I have helped contribute to making their lives better keeps me motivated to keep doing what I do.
What is your favorite quote?
“Every tooth in a person’s head is more valuable than a diamond.” Sometimes people forget that after our baby teeth fall out we only have one more set to last us for the rest of our lives. You would be very surprised to know how many people have dentures. Diamonds come and go but teeth are forever. If I had to choose from keeping my biological teeth and getting a diamond I would always choose my teeth. Dental work is, for the most part, painful. That is why I, and your parent(s), always pester you to brush and floss regularly.
What is your definition of success?
There are many different definitions of success, especially these days, but I believe mine to be simple. If you can help people while doing what you love and making a living from it then you are successful. Sure some people believe success to be a six figure salary or multi-million views but I do not think that should be the only components of a successful person. Money is great but do you love it? And are you making a lasting, positive impact on the world and to the people around you? That is more important than money or power. We should all strive to make the world a better place.