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MyView: Why I am a tripartite member

January 20, 2014

By Amanda Hemmer, D.M.D.

Growing up, I used to love reading Choose Your Own Adventure books. In each book, the reader is able to choose the main character's actions and the plot outcome. Though all of the options and endings were interesting, it was the freedom to choose my own story that was really intriguing. I feel that being a tripartite member of the ADA, Pennsylvania Dental Association and Montgomery Bucks Dental Society is like being in a real life Choose Your Own Adventure book. Each of these organizations offers a plethora of opportunities and resources that every member can customize to fit his or her needs.

My travels through the tripartite world have taken me on many journeys that have enhanced my professional career. One of the most significant benefits I found is through networking. I was introduced to my current employer through my local society. It has been a very rewarding associateship. I am learning immensely from the practice owner who has become my mentor and I also enjoy working with the patients and office team members.

Through my local society meetings, I have had the privilege to meet many distinguished and established dental professionals in the region. As a new dentist, I am decades younger than many of these members, however they still make me feel welcomed at the meetings and treat me as a colleague. I am truly honored by this, and I feel a sense of belonging that has helped improve my confidence as a young dentist.

I also am a member of the PDA New Dentist Committee and have been able to meet fellow young dentists from around the state. Being able to converse and share similar experiences with colleagues across the state has been invaluable. Networking has helped me in these ways, but other members may choose to use the tripartite networking resources to get advice on particular clinical cases, gain patient referrals or place or answer employment advertisements on the websites and written publications.

Another dental voyage I have taken is becoming involved in advocacy. I have attended three PDA "Day on the Hill" events in Harrisburg, Pa. Through these events I was able to speak to state legislators about important issues that help protect our profession and also our patients. I am proud to have been a part of these events and to have helped shape legislation in our state. Other members may choose to use the organization websites to identify their local legislators and contact them through email. There is a whole page on the PDA website devoted to this. Other members may choose to attend the national lobby day in Washington, D.C. Still others may choose to benefit passively and let their annual dues help fund the advocacy programs set up on the national, state and local levels.

Tripartite membership has taken me on many trips for continuing education. I have been able to learn tremendously from excellent local CE courses and also from wonderful lectures at national conferences. One side benefit I experienced while attending the 2011 New Dentist Conference in Chicago was taking advantage of the ADA discounted rates at the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons hotels. As an ADA member we are able to stay at these hotels in Chicago for a fraction of the normal rates. I learned about this great perk from a long time member and I have tried to share it with as many colleagues as possible. Given the dense CE opportunities available, there is a seemingly infinite number of CE paths that members can take on local, state and national levels.

As a new dentist, I have yet to explore every path membership has to offer. There are many more opportunities available such as downloadable resources for patients on the ADA's "MouthHealthy" website, ADA podcasts on dental topics and extensive scientific/research advancements made through ADA Institutes.

These are just a few examples of ways to enhance your membership. A tripartite membership offers a myriad of options for achieving a successful and rewarding career. The choice is yours on how to get there and which adventures you want to experience along the way. Safe travels!

Dr. Hemmer is vice chair of the Pennsylvania Dental Association New Dentist Committee, a board member of the Montgomery Bucks Dental Society and editor of the MBDS Bulletin. Her comments, reprinted here with permission, originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of that publication.