e-mail Print Share

R&R Conference focuses on efforts to better connect with dentists

May 04, 2015

By Kimber Solana


Q&A: Dr. Aruna Rao, of the Minnesota Dental Association, asks a question during a discussion on the changing demographics in dentistry at the 2015 ADA Membership Recruitment and Retention Conference.
In an effort to advance the framework created to better serve members, over 180 state and local dental society volunteers and staff members dedicated to growing membership gained — and shared — innovative perspectives and ideas from the 2015 ADA Annual Membership Recruitment and Retention Conference, held April 17-18 at ADA Headquarters.

With the theme of "Advancing the Power of Three," the key focus was to expand upon the initiative aimed at positioning the national, state and local levels of the ADA for ongoing growth.

"We're going to talk about the challenges that we're facing," said Dr. Michael Durbin, ADA Council on Membership chair, in welcoming attendees. "A lot of times that means focusing on our weaknesses. But instead, we should try to focus on our strengths. That's important as we move forward. What are we doing right and how can we do more of it?"

The Power of Three initiative underscores the mission of the ADA, along with local and state dental societies, to help all members succeed by delivering programs, services and advocacy for members by working together to maximize value and service regardless of where the experience occurs for members.


Winners: The New York State Dental Association received an award for "Most Improved Active Member Retention Rate" for a dental society with more than 7,500 members. (From left) Dr. Patricia Hanlon, Dr. Ivan Vazquez, Dr. Claudia Mahon-Vazquez, Dr. Jay Skolnick, Dr. Maria Maranga, Dr. Terry Sanders and Tara Ricard.
"When we met here last year, we talked about plans to enhance value for our members and facilitate collaboration at the local, state and national levels," said Dr. Maxine Feinberg, ADA president, in her welcome remarks. "Since that time, we've made great progress toward putting those plans in motion."

Among the efforts include:

  • Launching Members First 2020, a five-year strategic plan built around renewed emphasis on enhancing value, engagement and experiences for members.
  • Expanding use of Aptify, a membership database software to help connect local, state and national associations. To date, 26 states and their local associations are using the program. By the end of 2015, Dr. Durbin said, almost all state dental societies will be using Aptify.
  • Hosting town hall meetings at dental schools across the country to help students understand how the ADA can help them throughout their careers.
  • Unveiling of the Division of Member and Client Services to better hone in on the ADA's renewed focus on its members and reinforcing state and local societies in serving members.

Speakers covered a wide range of topics, providing volunteers and society staff members with resources, education and networking opportunities, along with developing actionable recruitment and retention plans.

Keynote speaker Russell Walker, professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, explained the demographic and generational changes occurring in dentistry as part of broader social trends, while highlighting ideas that can help organized dentistry better personally and emotionally connect with the new faces of the profession.

Other sessions included how to advance diversity and inclusion across all levels of the ADA, how to collaborate and leverage relationships with local American Student Dental Association chapters, and various emerging, promising and best practices from state associations and local societies.

For example, Dr. Anette Masters of the San Fernando Valley Dental Society shared how their Membership Ambassador Program recruited 63 new members by allowing their members to reach out to nonmembers by visiting their offices or meeting them for lunch or dinner.

"We still believe that by reaching out to every dentists or dental student at a one-on-one level, we will increase the chances of recruiting them and showing them the value of organized dentistry," said Dr. Masters. "Although social media is becoming the tool of the present, we still believe that leg work is important to sustain our growth."

Meanwhile, in a new recruitment program, the North Texas Dental Society this summer will give about 150 third- and fourth-year dental students from Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas a tour of several dental offices.

At the offices, there will be short presentations from member dentists, along with contractors and real estate developers who were involved in the construction of the facilities.

"It's a great networking event," said Dr. Robert Beatty, of NTDS. "We look at it as a great time for our dental society to present ourselves to the dental students who are graduating."

"One of the things that really impressed me at this conference is how hard each state is working to help dentists join with new and many times fun ways," said Dr. Rickland Asai, ADA 11th District trustee. "The energy and enthusiasm at this two-day meeting was palpable. And that is a great move for all of us."

In the end, attendees left re-energized with a sharpened focus on recruitment and retention, and gained access to tools and resources that support member service and member value.

"The conference gave me new ideas, new ways of thinking and ways to keep our members happy and keep them abreast of our membership benefits," said Jody Cleary, director of Membership & Financial Services at the Indiana Dental Association. "The Power of Three is very powerful and we need to utilize every aspect."