The Imperative of Giving Back: An Interview with Dr. Emily Letran

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Issue 155, Issues | 0 comments

In the late 1960s, a little Vietnamese girl watched the war in her country play out on her family's black and white television. After the Fall of Saigon in 1975,...

In the late 1960s, a little Vietnamese girl watched the war in her country play out on her family’s black and white television. After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, she learned how it felt to have to stand in long lines for food. 

When war broke out again in 1981, this time with China and Cambodia, the girl’s aunt left the country with her and other family children. 

For a week, with only a two-day food supply, they were ‘Vietnamese boat people‘ among the mass of refugees crowded in woefully inadequate boats. They eventually traveled to the US, where 10 people living in a two-bedroom apartment was a luxury. She learned English mainly by watching the news on television.

They started with nothing but hope and faith, she recalled in a recent podcast interview

Fast forward to the present day, the young girl, now a grown woman, has a successful career as a dentist, businesswoman, motivational speaker, private coach, marketing strategist, published author and humanitarian. 

This is the story of Dr. Emily Letran, DDS.


Dr. Emily Letran, DDS

Dr. Letran practices general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry in Southern  California. 

“In the late 80s, I knew I wanted to go into healthcare,” Dr. Letran said.

Friends suggested dentistry, and a few years later, she earned a DDS and an MS in Oral Biology from UCLA. She also finished a residency in treating difficult cases  and serving medically compromised patients.  

“As I started practicing dentistry,” she said, “I realized it gave me the ability to be in healthcare, help people and develop great relationships with my patients. I could give back and create an impact in the community.”


The Practice: Relating to Patients

“My favorite part of what I get to do is watching my patients’ families grow. The biggest compliment I see for myself is serving three generations of the same family,” she shared.

Dr. Letran finds joy in pausing to talk and listen to the patients.

“The patients share their stories with us. Paying attention to the metrics of your dental practice is important, and it also means a lot to be a part of that family’s story,” she explained.

In fact, her team treats patients like family. 

“With family, you tell it like it is and don’t sugarcoat things. We tell them what will happen if they don’t take action right away. They appreciate that,” she shared.

Dr. Letran and her team hold patient events, such as appreciation dinners, bowling outings and movie nights. And when patients are in the office, one of the team’s goals is to make patients laugh at least once.


The Business of Dentistry

“I have owned my practices for 25 years. I have had three offices for nine years, and I currently have two. I run my business as a business. I have specialists and associate doctors in the practice. This way, I can have time for my family, attend seminars and travel while the practices are still running,” she explained.

Dr. Letran pointed out that it is fine if a patient doesn’t recognize her because her team represents her brand well. 

“They don’t necessarily need to know the owner,” she explained. “They should know the philosophy and maybe the story behind that business, but they don’t necessarily need to know the person who founded the business. At the end of the day, the patients come for the services that your brand represents.”


A Wearer of Many Hats

With her practices in good hands, Dr. Letran is free to engage in her multiple other roles— Keynote Speaker, Marketing Strategist, Business Consultant, High-Performance Coach, Leadership Training and Team Building Leader, Seminar Host and Workshop Trainer — in which she instructs other dentists and healthcare professionals on building and growing their healthcare practices. Her keynotes have included topics such as: 

  • “Fast Track to High-Performance Leadership;”
  • “Action to Win: How to Keep a Client for 20 Years;”
  • “Team Building: What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

She shares with other dentists what she has learned about success in her 29 years of practice.

“My goal is to help healthcare professionals control stress, increase net income and live a happier, more impactful life. A lot of professionals feel overwhelmed sometimes. They go through certain challenges in their career. As a certified high-performance coach, I help them gain clarity and focus on what’s most important to them, rather than getting involved in a lot of things that may not make a difference,” she explained.

Dr. Letran gave an example. If you invest $70,000 in buying a high-tech piece of technology you think you need without understanding the marketing, how are you supposed to sell its use? Now you’re stressed because you still have this big payment to handle.

Dr. Letran helps healthcare professionals focus and avoid such issues by teaching them to be high performers who can control their business decisions, understand what comes next and how to maintain balanced lives. Part of what makes this work, she said, is leveraging staff and other experts

Hire others who can do those things. You don’t need to do everything. See how others can support you,” she said. Dr. Letran designed a High Performance Quiz to help other business professionals assess where they are in their personal lives, health, time management, business potential and success milestones.


Spreading the Word in Writing

Dr. Letran shares her philosophy and business observations in her many articles, such as:


She has also published books: 


Giving Back to the Community

Dr. Letran knows she is blessed to be able to help in giving back to the community.

“As healthcare professionals, we are already positioned as advisors. As influencers, people look up to us and listen to us. We should give back to the community that supports us. We can always do that small part as a way to give back to America,” she explained.

With how she approaches her dental practices and all the helpful hats she wears, Dr. Letran has devoted her entire career to giving back to her profession, the community and the country. 

Dr. Emily Letran is an extraordinary woman who climbed from a war-scarred childhood to life as a refugee to success built upon uplifting others and giving back. To learn more about her go to www.DrEmilyLetran.com.

Gaye Newton

Gaye Newton