CANTON — Multi-tasking is a way of life for busy professionals, and it’s certainly something Erika C. Goodloe, DMD, knows well. The 35-year-old dentist runs a busy solo practice and a lively family consisting of husband Marcus Goodloe and four daughters.
She admits that managing everything is work, but enjoyable work. “I started the practice so I could be more accessible to the girls. Maybe that was naïve,” she said. “I’m the flexible person. My husband was a farmer and now works in construction, so that means sun up to sun down for him.”
Goodloe says she’s okay if she doesn’t think about how busy she is. “I just don’t think about it,” she said, “and I have a lot of wisdom and help that surrounds me — older ladies and family members. I come from a large family. My grandmother had 15 children so I have lots of aunts.”
She specifically mentions Janie Johnson, her mother Earlene Coleman and in-laws Clifton and Delores Goodloe for the support they bring to her and her children. “My mother moved back here and is instrumental in my children’s lives. It’s a good support system,” she said. “I learn from other people’s experiences. I listen to them.”
Erika Coleman Goodloe was born in Chicago and reared in Jackson by her aunt and grandmother. She attended Johnson Elementary, Brinkley Junior High and Lanier High School. After earning a BS degree in chemistry, she entered the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.
Before graduation from dental school, she and childhood friend, Marcus Goodloe, married. “We’ve known each other since we were nine years old and he always told me he would marry me,” she recalls.
The couple’s four daughters are Gabrielle, 10; Gillian, 8; Galen, 5; and Grace, 3. Goodloe says they didn’t plan to give all their children G-names, but it just worked out that way.
“I say I have five children because I include my husband in that count,” she says with a laugh, “but we’re a loveable package — all of us.”
Goodloe’s office hours are 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Marcus takes the girls to school and she picks them up. The daughters spend some time at her office where they have a play room. Like most families, there are errands to run, violin and piano lessons and all the activities of an active bunch of children.
Asked if she’s patient, Goodloe says, “I don’t know about patience, but this is where I am in life and I don’t worry about it. I am a calm person, but I told my husband he’s the calmer one. I’m a born-again believer. I believe God has a plan for me. Everything works for a purpose and we may need to go through some things more than once.”
Erika and Marcus Goodloe are active members of Pleasant Green Church of Christ Holiness, USA in Canton and faith is a big part of what gets them through their busy days. “I was raised to believe the Lord is in control and that I’m not in this life alone,” she said. “Even when I went out on a limb and started a practice, I wasn’t alone.”
The couple agrees that their children deserve to have that same faith and they hope to impart even more to them. “The big thing with us is that our children are the most important legacy we will leave. We’re entrusted with four lives and right now we are the center of their universe,” Erika says. “They’re precious.”
During her last year at Millsaps College, Goodloe decided to become a dentist. She wanted to be a part of the medical profession in some way and also wanted to get married and have a family.
“I did not want to be on call and there are not a lot of African-American dentists,” she said. “I have had no regrets but there have been some surprises.”
Those surprises have come from the business side of running a practice. Goodloe says the financial issues — signing paychecks and other business matters — are not exactly what she envisioned when she decided to become a dentist.
“It’s a bigger deal than I originally thought,” she said. “I can’t just turn the key and practice dentistry.”
A general dentist, Goodloe does a little bit of everything and sees children through adults. She sees 18 to 20 patients each day when everyone shows up for appointments.
“I’ve been out of dental school for 10 years now and so far, so good,” she said. “The most rewarding thing is being able to help people. No one likes to see a dentist so they come in hurting or needing help. I like to ease their anxiety and I believe I have a gift for making people feel at ease.”
While Goodloe acknowledges she’s in business to make money, making people feel better is a primary concern for her. “I like to feel good about what I do and that I’m honest with people,” she said. “They might hear my children in back of the office playing and that makes patients feel at ease — that it’s a comfortable, family place.”
Jackson oral surgeon Dr. Willie J. Hill is one of Goodloe’s mentors. The UM School of Dentistry professor emeritus was chairman and a professor in the department of oral and maxillofacial surgery when Goodloe was a student there.
He remembers her as an excellent student. “She was very conscientious and compassionate so patients liked her,” he said “She was dependable and wanted to succeed. She wanted to take care of patients.”
At this point, Goodloe is content to keep her practice small and hands-on. “I’m practicing my style of dentistry. Everyone who comes in here sees me,” she says. “But, I’m not closing the door to opportunity. One of my goals is to grow the practice and I might bring in another dentist in the future.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.