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EBD Champions unite in Chicago

Upon learning about the ADA’s Evidence-Based Champions Conference, Dr. Tonya Fuqua jumped at the chance to surround herself with the profession’s most passionate EBD practitioners and lecturers.

Image: ADA President-elect Bill Calnon and ADA President Raymond Gist greet the 2011 EBD Champions
Welcome: ADA President-elect Bill Calnon (left) and ADA President Raymond Gist greet the 2011 EBD Champions on July 29 at ADA Headquarters.

The general dentist from Fort Worth, Texas, took part in the 4th annual EBD Champions Conference July 28-30 at ADA Headquarters. The three-day event was open to dentists from practice, academic and public health backgrounds interested in promoting EBD to their dental and medical colleagues.

“This whole language of evidence-based and best practices is such a hot topic, especially in medicine,” said Dr. Fuqua of her decision to attend the conference.

The EBD Champions Conference began in 2008 as a teaching instrument for dentists interested in becoming resources to their local dental communities by promoting an evidence-based approach to patient treatment and disease prevention.

This year’s conference kicked off with introductions from ADA leadership, President Raymond Gist and President-elect Bill Calnon.

“We hope you will leave here with a greater appreciation of understanding EBD,” Dr. Gist told the audience during his opening remarks. During his four years as an ADA trustee, Dr. Gist was the liaison to the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and attended the first EBD Champions Conference in 2008.

Dr. Calnon explained his EBD perspective, saying, “It’s not just what EBD means, it’s what you do with it,” adding that he wasn’t always keen on EBD—the letters, not the dental term. “When I was growing up, EBD meant Every. Bite. Down.”

In addition to speaker presentations, the EBD conference included panel discussions, question-and-answer sessions and team workshops. There were also pre-conference sessions where attendees learned how to search for scientific evidence online. In all, 110 champions representing 36 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, took part.

Dr. Alexis Gersten, a general dentist who works in private practice and also treats nursing home patients in Speonk, N.Y., said it was thrilling to meet so many of her colleagues that share her interest in EBD.

Image: Dr. Shukan Kanuga records her group’s thoughts as Drs. Peter Loomer and Jane Gillette look on.
Table discussion: Dr. Shukan Kanuga of Porter Ranch, Calif., records her group’s thoughts as Drs. Peter Loomer of San Francisco and Jane Gillette of Bozeman, Mont., look on. Dr. Gillette was also one of the program’s speakers.

”The organizational structure really touched on every area of evidence-based practice,” she said. “When I went into the conference I was interested in EBD and I frequently used the ADA EBD website and Pubmed, but when I left the conference I truly felt like I had the skills to pass the knowledge on to others.”

Dr. Gersten, who graduated from University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, said her interest in EBD was sparked in dental school when she also worked in the school’s informatics department and began increasingly using the Internet more for research.

“I am looking forward to bringing my new skills back to my geriatric work in particular,” she added.

As a parent first and health provider second, Dr. Fuqua’s interest in evidence-based research took a personal turn in 2002 when her daughter was born. After numerous unexplained medical issues, her daughter was ultimately diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 2. Dr. Fuqua said she wanted to know what the best questions were to ask as well as how to “weed out all the junk on the internet” when it came to literature and research. In 2003, she began working at Cook Children’s Medical Center, the same hospital that treats her daughter.

“It’s influenced me in so many ways,” she said. “There’s so much going on with patients; you have to stay up to speed and constantly challenge yourself and your colleagues.”

Many of the previous EBD conference speakers were back for this year’s event. Dr. J. Leslie Winston of Procter & Gamble provided newcomers with an overview of the conference’s history. This year, more than 200 applied for the 100 champion slots.

“You were chosen to come here and spend these two days with us,” she said.

Image: Evidence matters: Participants listen during the opening segment of the 4th annual EBD Champions Conference July 28-30 at ADA Headquarters.
Evidence matters: Participants listen during the opening segment of the 4th annual EBD Champions Conference July 28-30 at ADA Headquarters. The three-day event was open to dentists from practice, academic and public health backgrounds interested in promoting EBD.

Dr. Winston called EBD “knowing what information is available to make the best decisions for your patients” and pointed out that the profession has a “growing desire for more evidence-based decision-making, and the reason you’re here is you agree.”

Other speakers included Drs. Philippe Hujoel, Jane Gillette, Christopher Smiley, James Zahrowski, William Kohn, Robert Weyant, Brian Kennedy, Susan Paurazas, Janet Clarkson, and Paul Benjamin; and Jane Forrest, Ed.D., and John Rugh, Ph.D. The ADA’s Julie Frantsve-Hawley, Ph.D., director of the ADA Center for EBD, and Dr. Daniel M. Meyer, senior vice president of Science and Professional Relations, also spoke.

For Dr. Fuqua, the networking portion began early, when she realized she was seated at the same table as one of her former dental school classmates, Dr. Rodney Cook of Duncanville, Texas. Later, she connected with a fellow member of the Fort Worth District Dental Society, Dr. Partha Mukherji. The two hope to get more people involved at the local level as a result of the EBD Champions Conference.

Said Dr. Mukherji, “As many continuing education classes and learning events I've been to in my 10 years of practice, this has to be the most inspiring and provocative learning adventure I've ever been a part of.”

During his presentation on grading evidence, Dr. Hujoel stressed the importance of a science-based approach.

“There is no alternative. Yes, science is really frustrating at times, but it’s the only way forward and that’s why it’s wonderful that the ADA has embraced EBD,” he said.

Dr. Fuqua emerged from the conference with a newfound confidence she gained from the conference and said she can’t wait for more.

 “This was just a teaser. It’s enough to fuel your fire but I am going to need more to keep me going and current.”