Sometimes, all the pieces of a puzzle just fit together. This was the case for Sarah Anne Dordel and her current position of practice manager with David W. Kim, MD Facial Plastic Surgery in San Francisco.
“I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and went to college at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, graduating in 1996 with a Spanish education degree,” explains Dordel, saying that after college, she next spent some time in South America using her bilingual skills to teach, before moving back to the United States in 1997, and settling in New York. “I got involved with the Bluefly.com start-up, doing all kinds of things for them for the next three years—plugging numbers into spreadsheets, going to warehouses, doing graphic design and managing the in-house, digital photography studio,” she explains.
Feeling a bit burned out, Dordel traveled to Barcelona in 2000. “I got back to New York in 2001, and September 11 happened,” she says. “After that, I decided I wanted to do something more service-oriented, so I directed a nonprofit organization in the Washington Heights area of New York, and then ended up managing the office of a legal consulting firm.” Realizing she liked this work but not the legal industry, she switched jobs, becoming an office manager and patient coordinator at the office of Haideh Hirmand, MD, FACS, on New York’s Upper East Side in 2005.
“When I started, my goal was to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the industry,” Dordel says. “I picked up the key aspects of practice management pretty quickly, and soon felt I needed to expand my knowledge base with regard to treatments and skin care.” To that end, she began attending night classes at the Christine Valmy International School in New York, earning her esthetic license in 2007. “This way, I was able to provide more meaningful consultations and treatments to clients, and that allowed me to feel more integrated into the mission of the practice,” she explains.
This knowledge also aided Dordel in the sales and marketing manager position she moved on to at Alaur Skin Solutions and the cosmetic dermatology practice of Albert M. Lefkovits, MD. Soon, however, she began to long for a life outside of New York, and started hunting for jobs on the West Coast. “Many of the jobs I was seeing weren’t very impressive to me, and then I found the opportunity with Dr. Kim,” she says. Kim, who had served as the chief of the facial plastic surgery department at the University of California, San Francisco, was setting out on his own and looking for an office manager.
“Because of my past experience, it was really a perfect fit,” Dordel recalls. “Dr. Kim and I met in the fall of 2008 and got along really well, so I moved and helped him build his practice.” Dordel also transferred her esthetic license to California so she could continue offering patients appropriate treatments. “Because we are an intimate boutique office, I take on many roles, depending on the day and the need,” she explains. “As practice manager, I work with Dr. Kim to maintain practice efficiency, daily operations, strategic planning and business development. As lead patient coordinator, I am the liaison between Dr. Kim and our patients for clinical needs and education. And as an esthetician, I provide consultations, education and treatments for our patients, as well as assist Dr. Kim as needed for in-office procedures. This balance of management, operations and clinical work really keeps me feeling engaged and fulfilled in my job.”
Dordel also finds inspiration in ensuring patients feel as though they are getting the best care possible whether they are in the waiting room or the operating room. “We wanted to create a practice in which the quality of the patient experience from start to finish matched the quality of Dr. Kim’s clinical work and abilities,” she explains, saying how much she loves working with Kim. “His example sets the tone in the office as a place of optimism, humor and all-around positivity. And I love the time I get to spend observing him in the OR.”
To keep offering a high level of care to her patients, Dordel also continues her education. She is a member of the Organization of Facial Plastic Surgery Assistants, saying it’s a great way to keep in touch with the industry. She also is working toward obtaining certification from the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors and Associations, and completing advanced practice management courses. “Most importantly, I hope to continue to direct Dr. Kim’s practice as it grows into one of the premiere facial plastic practices in the United States,” she says. And with her dedicated spirit and knowledgeable ambition, it seems that goal will likely be achieved sooner rather than later.