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Networking key to New Dentist Conference

August 05, 2013

By Kelly Soderlund

Fireside chat: Dr. Chris Salierno, left, chair of the New Dentist Committee, and Dr. Brian Schwab, middle, vice chair, interview Charles Norman, ADA President-elect, about issues affecting dentists during the ADA 27th New Dentist Conference in Denver July 19.
Denver—When WHAM!'s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is the first song you hear at a conference, it's safe to assume it's a different type of event.

That's always been the intention of the ADA New Dentist Conference: for young dentists to have fun while learning more about and from their colleagues. The ADA 27th New Dentist Conference was held in Denver July 18-20 at the Four Seasons Hotel. More than 300 attended to develop their leadership skills, attend continuing education sessions and network with their peers.

“To have an opportunity in a smaller pool to mingle with your generation, with fellow new dentists, is a great opportunity,” said Dr. Chris Salierno, chair of the ADA New Dentist Committee, which hosted the event and met prior to the start of the conference.

New Dentist Committee members were on hand throughout the week to welcome dentists and answer any questions about becoming involved in organized dentistry at the local, state or national level.

Absorbing the conversation: Dr. Brandon Seto listens during a lunch presentation at the New Dentist Conference. More than 300 attended the three-day event.
And that was one of the questions dentists had for members of the ADA Board of Trustees during a Hot Topics in the Round session July 18. New dentists sat in small tables with members of the Board of Trustees and the co-chairs of the American Dental Political Action Committee board to discuss four topics relevant to practitioners in the first 10 years of practice, including student debt, workforce, advocacy and navigating the business world. ADPAC held its board meeting in conjunction with the New Dentist Conference so that new dentists could learn more about ADA advocacy efforts and how to get involved.

Following the small group discussions, Board of Trustees members went on stage for a panel discussion and to field questions from new dentists.

“I assume everybody's here because you're not only interested in hot topics but also in leadership,” ADA President Robert Faiella said. “Ask your questions. We hope we'll be able to give you some answers but, most importantly, let's have a dialogue.”

Dr. Alexa Vitek, of Michigan, asked board members how more new dentists can be represented in the ADA House of Delegates or on the national stage of organized dentistry. Dr. Jeffrey Dow, ADA Board member, agreed that the Board and House have fewer new dentists represented than is desirable.

“I don't think in the House of Delegates we adequately represent the ADA membership,” Dr. Dow said.

July 18 was a full day of leadership workshops, with dentists attending a keynote address by David Rabiner, who presented “Shaping the Future of Your Practice and Profession—The Keys to Developing Your Natural Leadership Skills,” and CE courses dedicated to fostering leadership concepts.

Throughout the conference, Dr. Salierno also conducted what he called a “fireside chat” with Dr. Faiella, ADA President-elect Charles Norman and ADA Executive Director Kathy O'Loughlin, where he interviewed them about ADA initiatives and hot topics within dentistry, including student debt.

Dr. Salierno asked all of the attendees to take an online poll on their smart phones to anonymously vote on what their student debt was upon graduating dental school. The results were posted immediately on a large screen at the front of the room, showing 38 percent of those in the room carried debt between $100,000 and $200,000. Twenty-eight percent reported having debt between $200,000 and $300,000.

The results prompted Dr. Salierno to ask Dr. Norman what the ADA can do to tackle the issue of student debt. Dr. Norman said that while the ADA cannot control what dental schools charge for tuition, it can work with the American Dental Education Association to push for change and advocate to Congress to keep student interest rates low. The ADA can also provide students with resources to educate them on what it will mean to take on such a large debt after graduation, he said.

Student debt is a concern to Dr. Larry Trubilla, of Pennsylvania, who has attended the New Dentist Conference for the past eight years. Dr. Trubilla has returned year after year because of the camaraderie he feels with the other new dentists and the opportunity to socialize with his peers and share ideas.

“We have a lot of the same concerns, which you don't get into as much when you go to a meeting that isn't geared toward new dentists,” said Dr. Trubilla, who said, in addition to student debt, conversations have centered around starting or buying a dental practice.

Denver is the fourth city Dr. Kendall Liday has visited through attending the New Dentist Conference.

“It's a small conference that's marketed toward younger dentists, and it helps keep me motivated to stay within organized dentistry,” said Dr. Liday, who is president of her component society in Columbia County, Ore.

Dr. Tiffany Manzo, member of the Local Arrangements Committee in Denver, enjoys the conference for the opportunity to network and talk with dentists she wouldn't normally meet.

“This is my fourth time attending the conference, and I like it because I'm able to talk to people who are going through the same experience I'm in,” Dr. Manzo said.

The New Dentist Conference was sponsored by: ADA Members Insurance Plans; ADPAC; Wells Fargo Practice Finance; Pacific Dental Services; Fortress Insurance Co.; the Colorado Dental Association; ADA Members Retirement Programs through AXA Equitable; Patterson Dental; Quintessence Publishing; Yodle; Isolite Systems; Sure Payroll; the Metropolitan Denver Dental Society; Henry Schein Dental; OraPharma; Aspen Dental; Heartland Dental Care; ADA Business Resources; and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.