As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Bao-Thy Grant.
Dr. Grant has a leading oral surgery practice, Center for Oral Reconstruction and Education in Orange, CA, and is the team Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Dr. Grant is also a pioneer of Yomi Robot-Assisted Dental Surgery, advancing state-of-the-art robot-assisted surgical techniques for dental patients. She also recently launched an oral care company, Bao Tea, offering an All-in-One Toothbrush and Tongue Cleaner, the only one of its kind on the market and recently recognized with an ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?
My parents left Vietnam the night before the fall of Saigon, risking their lives for a better life in America. Somewhere along the way, I was conceived in a refugee camp and then born in Santa Monica, CA. They gave me love, faith and an education. I saw how hard they worked, and I also witnessed how they honored their role in America. I loved their story and never took one minute for granted. I graduated from USC with a Business degree and continued on to become a board-certified Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon. I had incredible mentors along the way. I later met my husband, and the rest is history.
I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
My biggest mentor was Dr. Richard Kraut, Past Chairman & Director of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Department at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY. He taught me three incredibly valuable attributes: integrity, work ethic, and always caring for the patient at the highest level possible. He was devoted to our training and his work ethic was unparalleled.
What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?
I was blessed with a friendship and partnership with Dr. Jeffrey Pulver in 2008 who forever left an indelible mark on me. He sadly passed away far too early and unexpectedly, from Malignant Melanoma. I was left to run a private practice on my own while four months pregnant with my second child, as well as taking on the responsibility of caring for a community and a professional hockey team. I knew Dr. Pulver’s role with the community and the players was so important to him. I just took a deep breath and gave it my best, which I continue to do. I miss him tremendously.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
A moment that stands out to me the most is the opportunity to provide the COVID vaccination in its early launch. Although I only vaccinated 250 people in Orange County, it was truly one of the most meaningful and impactful acts that my staff and I have done while helping others. It was special for all of us and felt like a historic moment.
Because it is a “helping profession”, some healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How do you address the business aspect of running a medical practice? Can you share a story or example?
While I do run a private practice that has day-to-day business responsibilities and opportunities for growth, I never lose sight of my role as a healthcare provider because I took a Hippocratic Oath. One story that stands out to me took place several years ago where there was a large number of mycobacterium abscessus in a local pediatric population due to a contaminated water line. For several months, I would perform pro-bono surgeries in the middle of the night to help care for these children after a long day in private practice, followed by working professional hockey games in the evening as a team doctor. It took an entire specialized team to care for these children. I had a duty back then as I still have a duty now to care for patients and dedicate my time to those in need.
Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?
Call me crazy, but I thrive by managing many roles! I balance it through being consistent with my daily routines to start the morning off right with coffee and a workout. I meal prep and eat clean throughout the day which helps sustain me. I pray before my morning surgeries and eat every three hours. Once I get to the office, my staff is incredible with keeping me on track and knowing what I need to care for our patients. Another part of the equation is that I truly have a loving and supportive husband, family, friends, and staff. They all play an integral part in my life and are quick to put me in my place!
From completing your degree to opening a practice and becoming a business owner, your path was most likely challenging. Can you share a story about one of your greatest struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?
Being a mother while working has its challenges and rewards. Early in the baby stages, breastfeeding was only in the morning and at night. The rest of the time, I had to find time in between patients to pump. I felt guilty at times as I loved that bond and moment. When they got older, I had to miss some games and school functions if I worked a professional hockey game or was on-call at the hospital. However, I always asked my daughter and son to choose the functions that they felt meant the most to them. As they got older, they could see on our family calendar which nights I would be free and there was a realistic expectation and as a family we made it work. Now, I hope I have instilled in them the importance of work ethic, and balancing work life while also enjoying family and personal time. Having both a successful work and rewarding personal life makes me happy.
Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the 5 things you need to know to create a thriving practice, and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Invest in knowledge: Never stop learning. Know your field well and the knowledge you gain yields the highest returns.
- Invest in clinical anchors: Create the culture with your team to have strong beliefs in the vision and mission of the practice to provide extraordinary care.
- Invest in people: Create leadership and accountability. Show your people you care. In return, they will care about you and your patients.
- Invest in your health: Overall wellness is the fuel for a productive day. Don’t waste one minute while you are awake.
- Invest in progressive technology: Enhance patient safety and surgical outcomes. Never lose sight of workflow optimization.
As a business owner you spend most of your time working IN your practice, seeing patients. When and how do you shift to working ON your practice? (Marketing, upgrading systems, growing your practice, etc.) How much time do you spend on the business elements?
I make time for it all since each area is evolving and things dynamically change in the office all the time. Staff meetings allow us to strategize on other aspects of the practice. It is a time to learn and listen from your staff as well. Oftentimes, matters arise unexpectedly as well so I have to adapt to changes that can occur at any moment. If I continually reference the five things above in the previous question, I know I am casting a wide enough net to work on everything that is important for the practice.
I understand that the healthcare industry has unique stresses and hazards that other industries don’t have. What specific practices would you recommend to other healthcare leaders to improve their physical or mental wellness? Can you share a story or example?
Consistency. Taking the time to exercise and eat well during the work week is imperative to my mental and physical wellbeing. It is not easy, but it works. I can state with certainty that it also helps me be a better boss, wife, mother, and friend.
Make time for those you love. I am not fond of the word “busy”. When you genuinely care and you are inundated with obligations, you will still make time for those you care about.
Prayer. Reflect in silence and pray or meditate. There is a comfort that is so clear and calm in those moments.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?
“Integrity is like virginity; you can only lose it once.”
Therefore, I remind myself to remember why I started this journey to become an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon. The innate motivation to constantly learn in my field and perform to the best of my abilities keeps me grounded. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. There are always challenges along the way but if I stay true to doing what is always right for my patients, I know that I am giving it my best.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’d love readers to follow my work at:
Center for Oral Reconstruction & Education:
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!