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The Resilient Dr. Sarah Morris

Articles, Editors Pick

 Several years ago, Dr. Sarah J. Morris was living her dreams. Sixteen years prior, Sarah took a leap and became a practice owner after finishing dental school. She poured her blood, sweat, and tears into steadily building up her new practice—Sarah J. Morris and Associates—and it blossomed into everything she once envisioned. She was working with a loyal patient base and a hard-working team committed to the same mission.

But things suddenly changed. Sarah dealt with an active draining ear infection nearly every month. It became debilitating. She couldn’t perform in the operatory like she used to. Her clarity and balance were compromised, and she missed days of work at a time. On the days she came in, Sarah pushed through and acted as if everything was fine. But, as soon as she left the room or stood up, she needed to grasp a wall to stay upright. There were many days Sarah didn’t feel it would be safe to practice, so she was forced to stay home and pray for healing.

This Wasn’t Sarah’s First Rodeo.

Sarah had her first surgery on her ears when she was only three years old. At the time of this article being written, Sarah has had her ears operated on a whopping 12 times.

In 2020, Sarah decided to do another surgery after realizing the effect her hearing challenges were having on herself, her family, and her ability to socialize. It was scheduled for March 27th, 2020, right as the world descended into utter chaos with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After some delays, Sarah got her surgery but, unfortunately, she received a defective cochlear device. Reluctantly, she decided to go back and get a replacement surgery. After running into the aforementioned draining ear infection, a new doctor helped resolve the issue, but Sarah was left with permanent hearing loss. Now, due to chronic infections and burst eardrums, her ear bones are no longer functional on one side. And the “good” side has a perforated tympanic membrane to this day.

 

Any Challenge is What You Make of It.

As detrimental as this seems, Sarah believes this physical condition has brought her closer to her patients. They offered her sympathy and showed emotional support. It led to conversations that strengthened their connection by creating a deeper understanding of one another, especially for those patients with hearing challenges themselves. And while Sarah must work extra hard to understand their needs, she believes the added effort makes her patients feel more valued and heard.

All in all, Sarah believes her disability reminds her to slow down, stop, and be in the moment. She’s grateful that so many avenues of communication are available, and resources abound for the hearing impaired. On that note, gratitude is something Sarah is passionate about. Whenever disappointment and frustration creep up, she takes a step back and realizes we all have our challenges. She focuses on her many blessings, and that helps change her perspective from negative to thankful. Sarah reminds herself daily to keep pushing and always makes the conscious habit of expressing appreciation for things big and small.

Maybe it’s her perseverance, willpower, and admirable mindset that keep Sarah’s
practice as strong as it ever was. She’s still living the dream and sees it as a privilege to provide exemplary, innovative, and effective dental care in a compassionate and comfortable environment. But Sarah couldn’t do it without her hard-working team, who aspire to promote a culture of inspiration, motivation, and love to all those they serve.

For Sarah, Family Matters the Most.

While Sarah finds dentistry extremely fulfilling, she has made a point to dial the hustle back and pour into her family more. Being the best mom she can be has filled her heart “unlike anything she ever expected.” Even better, she has the best partner in crime she could ask for: her college sweetheart and husband, Matthew. Their two daughters, Lillian, 12, and Hannah, 9, are the light of their lives. They keep Sarah and Matthew busy with their activities, sports, and silliness—for Sarah, “each day is a new day.” She has found herself at more school events, particularly those related to volleyball. Sarah and Matthew opened a volleyball club and helped open a volleyball gym in their hometown of Aledo in April 2022. When Sarah isn’t practicing in the office, bringing her children to sports, coaching volleyball games, or going to church and community events, she’s an avid continuing education supporter. This year, Sarah acquired her Masters in the Academy of General Dentistry and is currently pursuing her Lifelong Learning and Service
Recognition award. 

Some Sage Advice From Sarah.

Last but not least, Sarah has some advice for dentists: for one, dental practices are loud places, and it wouldn’t hurt to invest in some filtration earpieces to help salvage your hearing. But, on a more emotional level, Sarah urges her fellow dental professionals to never give up nor feel alone. She believes there is power behind joining a community of dentistry, and seeking fellowship with your peers or finding a mentor can go a long way.

In Sarah’s words: “The accountability, support, and challenges will grow you beyond what you could ever expect. It takes being meek and understanding that you don’t have to have all the answers all the time. Relying on others in the dental community is crucial when you feel like you are on an island and struggling. There are phenomenal resources to help affirm and carry you
through your struggles.”

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