Friday, August 3, 2012

Finding Dr. Larson

Now that Dr. Ethan Larson has joined Smiles by Sutherland, many of our patients wonder, “How on earth did you find Ethan?”

The answer might surprise you.

The whole process actually began several years before Ethan moved to Puyallup. It all started when I invited several staff members into my office to pray and think about adding another orthodontist to the SBS practice. “At first we started with prayer and then brainstormed about what kind of person we were looking for. Some days, we just prayed.” Eventually, we took it a step further.

On a whim, I wrote out the biography of the kind of person I was looking for. I know it sounds nuts, but I did it anyway:

I wanted someone in his mid-thirties, with two kids.
Of course, he would be a graduate of a great ortho program, but more than that. . .
He would already have contact with orthodontics, either through work, or family.
He would be married to a woman whose family was from Bellevue. (no kidding!)
He would be a Baptist (I know, specific right?).
He would be committed to orthodontics, of course, but more than that . . .
He would be committed to furthering the cause of Christ in the community and in orthodontics.

All through the process, we continued to pray. Eventually, I put just one ad in the magazine for the American Association of Orthodontists. Just. One.

Dolly, Ethan’s wife found that ad and insisted that he call me. Something about that phone call resonated with me. He came to visit us while here in Washington looking at another ortho practice.

Here is how Ethan measured up against my “perfect world associate.” He’s not quite thirty-five, but close. He has four kids, not two. As a graduate of a great ortho program, Ethan has proven himself to be one of the best. His father is an orthodontist. His wife is from Redmond (not far from Bellevue). He’s Presbyterian, not a Baptist. And more than anything, Ethan adheres to the bigger mission of Smiles by Sutherland. All in all, Ethan couldn’t have come much closer to meeting my every hope for the practice.

It’s never easy to add an important staff member to an established business. So far, we’ve had an incredibly smooth transition. Our staff loves him. Patients think he’s wonderful. I’m impressed with his skill, his work ethic, and his commitment to the things I value most. While school prepares students for clinical practice, I hope that I’m helping Ethan find his way in the world of business.

We’ve heard the horror stories, where other dentist-associate relationships crash and burn. So far, we’ve experienced nothing but good from Ethan’s arrival.

We hope that all of you will come to value Ethan as much as I do.

Dr. Greg Sutherland, (with Bette Nordberg)


  1. A good reminder that God is in control & He does want to give us what our hearts desire.

    Sounds like you made a good choice in hiring Dr. Ethan!

    P.S. I think it's awesome that you and your staff get together and pray about things. Thank you for sharing :-)

  2. There is a spot in the New Testament where it says, "they marveled that He did all things well." Makes me laugh every time I read it. We have that in common with the folks of Jesus' day. We ask. He does. And we're surprised at how beautifully he does his work! He is Good!

  3. I love it!! You told God what type of person you wanted and God gave you what you needed. This reminds me of a verse in James, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. All it takes is some prayer mixed with some faith and God's hand. All we have to do is sit back and watch God work it. Dr. Ethan is awesome.