Frank Lafata had the rest of his life planned. As an undergraduate student working toward a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene at Detroit Mercy Dental, Lafata (shown above with one of his favorite dentists Dr. Meri) was ready to storm the world and pursue his dream of becoming an orthodontist.
Lafata’s entire blueprint changed after a car accident during his studies in hygiene school. The accident left him with a serious back injury, threatening his hopes of becoming an orthodontist. However, Lafata persevered and continued working hard to reach his goal.
As Lafata moved into the professional world as a Registered Dental Hygienist and worked at several private practices, but he soon came to realize that the physical demands of the dental profession would take too much of a toll on his body. This was the moment Lafata decided that it was time to make some changes in his life blueprints.
Not wanting to stray from the world of dentistry, Lafata decided to put his skills to use in dental equipment sales. Lafata said that Detroit Mercy Dental fully prepared him for whatever role in sales he decided to fulfill through curriculum like dental material classes. He was featured recently in the school’s alumni magazine, Leading Edge: https://dental.udmercy.edu/alumni/leading-edge.php
“Detroit Mercy [Dental] helped me a ton! I learned so much about instruments, ergonomics, dental equipment and so much more,” Lafata said.Frank Lafata, RDH
How did Lafata overcome such a setback?
The most important thing Lafata had to tell himself was to “just keep pushing on.” Lafata said that because the accident happened when he was in hygiene school, it was even more difficult to give up because he was so close to reaching his goals.
“Sure, I have my bad thoughts when things don’t go my way, but everything happens for a reason. I process what happens and adjust accordingly,” Lafata said.
Lafata gives this advice out to anyone who feels like they may have reached a dead end or a stumbling block. Remembering what the ultimate goal is and the rerouting process to get there are the most important components of his everlasting work ethic.
Even though he did not end up where he expected, Lafata said that every day he can make an impact in his current position as a Territory Representative at Benco Dental.
Lafata said that his past experience allows him to better relate to his clients when selling dental equipment because he can offer in-depth explanations about how the products will function. The fact that Lafata has been in his clients’ position allows them to better trust his judgement.
“They trust me because I’ve been in their shoes and understand their needs,” Lafata said.
“I feel like I have a better working knowledge of how the [products] run in dental practices,” Lafata said.
Not to mention, Lafata is constantly learning from his coworkers and other clinicians, which allows him to continuously fine tune his skills in dental sales.
He still manages to find time to work clinically on Saturdays and even keeps himself active by playing hockey every Monday night.
Lafata said his role at Benco Dental illustrates the best career move he could have made. This just goes to show that sometimes the plan you have set for yourself may not be your true destiny.