Dr. Rouzana Hares, MBA ’22: Serving with a Mission to Improve the Patient Experience
Dr. Rouzana Hares, MBA ’22, believes in the power of business to advance the greater good. As co-owner of Great Smiles Dental Group, she focuses on providing the highest level of holistic, preventive dental care — both in her Michigan practice and in her mission work abroad.
Hares has always had a desire to help others, but combining her passion for dental health care with the business knowledge she gained at the Ross School of Business, she has been able to have a far greater impact than she ever thought possible.
Turning a childhood dream into a reality
Originally from Syria, Hares’ career path was influenced by a particularly painful dentist appointment as a child. She vowed to become a dentist one day and ensure her patients never experienced that level of pain. Delivering on that promise is a core value of her practice today.
But despite her passion for the field, dentistry wasn’t always the plan for her. She explained, “In Syria, your career path is decided for you based on your grades.”
Hares’ grades had placed her in engineering, a field she studied in for about a year. After getting married, she had a discussion with her husband, who had immigrated to the United States, about her immigrating as well.
“I told him, I will immigrate under one condition — I want to pursue my dream of becoming a dentist,” said Hares.
After earning her doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Detroit Mercy, she established her practice with her sister-in-law, Dr. Hazami Hares, providing care to the many immigrants and refugees in the underserved area of Hamtramck, Mich.
A passion for giving back
Hares’ determination to support others in crisis has been greatly influenced by her own life experiences. Being displaced herself as a child, she feels compelled to support refugees in similar situations.
Outside of her dental practice, Hares has served as an adjunct instructor and is the founder of Women for Humanity, a nonprofit organization focused on assisting and sustaining people in times of crisis. Through this work, she was introduced to the global medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Association. Her first mission trip to Syria was an emotional, eye-opening experience.
“We saw patients who hadn’t been receiving the right standard of care,” said Hares. “Many procedures were performed without the proper tools, which caused more harm and meant patients had to come back for recare on problems that were not solved properly the first time.”
Knowing that processes could be improved upon, Hares returned to the United States and assembled a team of peers focused on developing a model to add structure and create more efficient methods of care for future missions.
The business side of healthcare
Seeing the positive results of the team’s organized efforts, and the increased number of patients they were able to serve, empowered Hares to push herself even further.
“I had always had in mind that I would go back to school. I felt like my leadership skills were at a plateau. I was doing all this work, but I lacked a clear vision.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down her practice and canceled mission trips, Hares decided it was the right time to pursue her MBA.
Hares chose the Ross School of Business because she felt confident that it was a school where she could focus on developing her leadership skills.
Hares has applied much of what she learned from her Michigan Ross MBA to establish strategic and streamlined processes to collect data to better serve her patients. Applying a business lens to her work has given her the ability to develop a more effective model for others to follow.
“In healthcare, we are not trained to look at our work strategically. But now I can see that this is moving in a direction that we can build on,” Hares said. “When you can say, in six days, we delivered care and donated dental services worth over half a million dollars, everyone stops and says, ‘Okay, how did you do that?’ Now we’ve got their attention and now we can work together to create a bigger impact and help more people. That’s what was so unique about the skill set that I gained,” she said.
Professional and personal growth
Hares is passionate about her work and is grateful for the opportunities, including her time at Michigan Ross, which have allowed her to expand her capabilities to serve more people.
While her focus will always be on providing dental care to patients in need, in the future Hares would like to teach and share her experiences with students. She also plans to devote more time volunteering in the nonprofit world, including a recently established local project, Michigan Interfaith Refugee Dental Program, whose mission is to activate a diverse network of dental teams, increase employability of new Americans, and assist with the adjustment of new Americans to their new home in a timely manner.
“I believe in giving back. But I always say that as much as you are helping others, it’s also helping you grow as well,” said Hares. “At the end of the day, that impact is what gives us energy to help more people. I firmly believe that whatever I've done in the nonprofit world has helped me become who I am today.”