This year, I attended the ASDA District 8 dental student conference. The first of its kind through zoom. I fondly recall attending this same conference my first year as a dental student. A collection of D1s through D4s travelled via bus to Omaha, Nebraska. We ate well, celebrated, networked and soaked in the new atmosphere. I made it a point to go for a 7ish-mile run one morning to explore the city.
As I walked into the exhibition in 2018 and listened to career stories, entrepreneurial stars and product descriptions, I came to the ever-obvious conclusion that I had a lot to learn. Going to a dental conference in your first year is like going to visit a parent's job. You know the place is cool, everyone is oddly jubilant and welcoming when they see you, but you can’t contribute much beyond admiration, good behaviour, eating the office snacks and smiling. The last one, of course, is mandated at dental conferences.
Attendance as a D3/D4 brings purpose and holds practical significance. We are gearing up to enter the workforce, and we can also laugh along when a speaker makes a witty remark on the woes of Axium. The last two and a half years have encompassed the absorption of volumes of information, continued education courses and building a foundation for entrepreneurship; I could resonate at many levels with the speaker’s struggle to success stories. For example, it’s one thing to understand that you need excellent treatment acceptance rates to flourish in private-practice but it’s another thing to have interacted with patients, experience the agony of a patient ghosting you as you struggle to meet clinic-requirements, and then listen to a dentist gives his tips to dominate in this part of private practice. Case acceptance rates are not an issue for me, personally. I'd say its a mix of luck, experience (I've worked in customer service centred fields for over 12 years) and my patients recognizing that I genuinely care about them every appointment. You need to make sure they know that you have their best interest at hand.
This year's I attended four speaker sessions: Dr Jessica Emery, Dr Paul Homoly, Dental Yogis and Dr Ahmad. Prior commitments posed impediments to attending the entire conference - that's one benefit of Zoom.
Here are my take-aways from each speaker.
Personalization is key to running a boutique-style dental office. Each detail in the office is a marketing tool. Small gestures like pleasant candles or charging phones make a difference. Ensure your patients know what you are about before they walk in. Marketing allows you to connect with the world around you and attract patients that admire your approach to dentistry.
Know your audience and talk to each patient in a personalized way. The younger generation prefers to be pragmatic and efficient, while the older generation wants to be understood. These are gross generalizations, but they point out that social parameters create differences in populations. Take time to hear your patient's chief complaint and get to the root of why they chose to come into your office on that day. It is your job to present treatment plans eloquently. Collaborate with the patient rather than putting the burden on them entirely.
Creating a peaceful space in your mind and heart is essential to enjoying life. Dentistry can be anything you want it to be as long as your body and mind are sound. Not everyone is not going to come on your journey. Your service to them is that you live in your truth and do good work.
There are numerous accessory anatomical structures in the head and neck region, even beyond the instructional scope of gross/dental anatomy. Make it a point to continuously quiz yourself and consider this anatomy when providing anaesthesia or interpreting a radiograph.
I jotted down specifics like a madwoman, but I don't want to give too much away because I believe you got to hear the speakers for yourself!
Focus and reach your target audience. Take care of your target audience’s individualized needs. Take care of yourself. Keep learning.
Another dental school experience in the books.