America’s Dental Meeting is for Students Too!
The majority of my days consist of calling patients, monitoring requirements to ensure I graduate, and studying for whatever exam is coming up in my didactic courses. Occasionally, I have the chance to attend various meetings for the American Student Dental Association, the Houston Academy of General Dentistry and Greater Houston Dental Society. Every one of these meetings revitalizes my desire to succeed in this profession and become a Super Dentist.
Last year, I attended the ADA Annual Session, better known as “America’s Dental Meeting” in New Orleans. I didn’t really understand how to navigate this meeting as a dental student and didn’t even visit the exhibit hall. When I learned the ADA was headed to Texas this year, I made it a point to block out time to attend as much of the meeting as my school will allow me. I’m very fortunate to live just a quick
three-hour drive from San Antonio.
I loaded up my car and headed to San Antonio on Wednesday evening. Our ASDA Chapter sponsored two rooms for students interested in attending, so that defrayed a huge cost. I signed up to volunteer with the Committee on Local Arrangements as a room host for a few CE lectures throughout the weekend. Wednesday night I caught up with some ASDA friends from my time on the ASDA Board last year. This reunion of sorts brought excitement for the days to come.
Thursday morning I attended the opening session of America’s Dental Meeting, which included the Distinguished Speaker Series featuring former President George W. Bush, or “Dubya” as we Texans refer to him. Some notable moments in the opening session include the recognition of various programs within the ADA and a video of the ADA Humanitarian Award recipient, Dr. Raymond Damazo.
President Bush took the stage with ADA President Dr. Charles Norman for a Q&A session. The two sat casually in leather chairs, chatting as if they were merely sharing coffee with an audience. President Bush was hilarious. He spoke of his family life, his relationships with other world leaders and his newfound painting hobby. Though he had humor throughout most of the interview, his tone quickly changed when asked to describe his day on September 11, 2001. Sitting in the audience, I had goose bumps while he described how the events unfolded on undoubtedly the most important day of his presidency. No matter your political preference, you definitely left the Alamodome with a little insight into who President Bush is as a person and his top priorities during his presidency.
Immediately following the Opening Session, my classmates and I headed to the exhibit fair. This was unlike any other exhibit fair I have been to in my entire life. All of the large companies had massive sets with 20-minute-long presentations of their new products. It was obviously nice to pick up some swag while walking around. One of the coolest parts of the exhibit fair was the Laser Lounge. Companies were giving hands-on experience with lasers. Other notable exhibitors included the ADA Business Resources and ADA Member Center. Both of these were true testaments of tangible benefits from ADA membership.
On Thursday night, two friends and I attended the large Texas Tailgate reception. There was plenty of dancing, food, and fun for all attendees and their families. The photo booth was my favorite part. It was also a great networking opportunity. While standing in various lines that night, I received a number of business cards from practicing dentists interested in hiring associates or just willing to serve as a mentor. I even met a dentist from California who knows one of the clinical professors at my school very well. It’s incredible how small the dental profession really can be once you start networking.
On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in on a CE lecture on esthetic dentistry as a part of my responsibility as a room host. I met the speaker and had a conversation with him about my future and my career goals. This was another moment when I learned that more seasoned dentists really do just want to help mentor students like me. On Friday evening, my friends and I attended our school’s alumni reception as well at the New Dentist Reception. The New Dentist Reception was awesome. I was able to meet dentists who graduated within the last 10 years and ask for advice. This is a completely different level of mentorship than with my other mentors. It was also kind of cool that the New Dentist Committee passed out some sweet sunglasses and cowboy hats.
Saturday was another day for more CE lectures. I served as room host for one related to the differences in how men and women communicate. This is great for patient management skills. The speaker was hilarious and informative. During this lecture, I also had the chance to mingle with dental assistants and hygienists. I’ve learned that sometimes connections with the rest of the staff are incredibly beneficial as well. Saturday night consisted of more receptions, most notably the 15th District Reception. It’s no lie that Texas dentists know how to have a good time. It also served as another great networking opportunity. I talked with ADA President Dr. Norman as well as the 15th District Trustee Dr. Hilton Israelson, who has been a mentor of mine for a few years now.
Dr. Israelson invited me to the 15th District Caucus on Sunday morning. He introduced my in front of the caucus and even sat me next to a group discussing issues for New Dentists. I was welcomed with open arms. Many dentists from areas outside of Houston made it a point to introduce themselves to me. I was honored these bigwigs in dentistry were actually interested in talking to me. In that caucus, I also learned that the future leadership of the ADA really is concerned with issues pertaining to dental students and new dentists. The room may have been full of people near my parents’ age, but they still desired to keep our profession strong for future dentists like me.
I recommend that any dental student head to the ADA meeting at least one time in their dental school career. Take advantage of the dentists you know to introduce you to others. Use the receptions as a time to get to know dentists rather than an excuse to party. Always be sure to follow up with any person you meet at any dental meeting as well.