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Re-envisioned New Dentist Conference keeps identity

November 16, 2015

By Kimber Solana

Networking: From left, Drs. Naureen Ridge, Keon Anderson and Erin Williams network during the awards luncheon of the 2015 New Dentist Conference.
Washington — In its effort to reach more new dentists and optimize resources, the annual New Dentist Conference tried something new this year — it held it in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with ADA 2015 – America’s Dental Meeting.

“Initially, there were questions about how holding a small conference within the larger ADA meeting would work,” said Dr. Michael LeBlanc, New Dentist Committee chair. “But it’s been a bigger success than we could have imagined.”

The annual conference, on average, has attracted about 345 attendees a year since 1992. This year, more than 400 registered for the sold-out conference designed for dentists who are less than 10 years out of dental school.

In addition to taking advantage of what ADA 2015 had to offer, the New Dentist Conference gave new dentists opportunities for leadership development, to network with peers and attend quality continuing education courses with others in the same career stage.

Aptly called “Leadership Day,” the first day of the conference was filled with Q&A sessions with decision-makers, an inspirational keynote speaker, networking and an awards luncheon to honor outstanding new dentist leaders.

“We’re all here because we love dentistry. We want to make an impact in our communities and grow as dentists and individuals,” said Dr. LeBlanc, in welcoming the attendees. “You can feel confident that the new dentist voice is being heard and represented very well.”

Congressional visit: From left, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; and Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, who are all dentists, took questions from attendees at the New Dentist Conference.

The importance of being heard highlighted several of the sessions during Leadership Day. The conference began with a Q&A session with then-ADA President Maxine Feinberg and ADA Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin.

The recent endorsement of Darien Rowayton Bank, or DRB, that allows ADA members an opportunity to refinance existing federal and private student loans at a lower rate, resulted from better communication between new dentists and ADA leadership.

At the conference, new dentists raised questions on issues affecting new practitioners and graduating dental students, including what the ADA can do to address the use of live patients in board exams, the rise in dental debt and the impact of large group dental practices on small private practices.

An awards luncheon capped off the morning session, recognizing outstanding new dentists and their teams. This year’s recipients are:

  • Golden Apple Award for New Dentist Leadership: Dr. Charles E. Clark, Arizona Dental Society.
  • New Dentist Committee Outstanding Program Award of Excellence: The Washington State Dental Association’s program “Think Tank.”
  • Outstanding New Dentist Committee Award: Capital Area Dental Society New Dentist Committee from Austin, Texas. Dr. Trisha Kimes accepted the award on the group’s behalf.

The new dentist attendees also heard from two speakers. Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., chief economist and vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute, discussed what every dentist under 40 needs to know. And Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU and co-star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” gave an entertaining and inspirational talk on entrepreneurship to new dentists as keynote speaker of the 2015 New Dentist Conference.

In between the speakers, another Q&A session was held with three dentist colleagues who are currently serving in U.S. Congress — Reps. Mike Simpson, Paul Gosar and Brian Babin. The day ended with a reception with the ADA Board of Trustees, another opportunity for new dentists to share and exchange ideas on how to better reach out to young dentists and encourage them to join organized dentistry.

The conference concluded with a day dedicated to continuing education courses specifically designed to address the new dentists’ diverse and unique needs.

“We wanted courses that were vibrant but would help new dentists make the right decisions both clinically and financially,” said Dr. LeBlanc.

Dr. Sara Markovic sought as many courses as possible for her first New Dentist Conference. She chose to attend courses that she said would help her feel more comfortable as a new dentist — transitioning from practicing in a controlled setting, such as dental school, to practicing on her own. Her courses included Think of Yourself as a Patient: Oral Surgery for General Dentists led by Dr. Mollie Winston.

“For me, I wanted to focus on pediatric dentistry and oral surgery because those are the cases you see most often as a new dentist,” said Dr. Markovic, of Chicago, who graduated in 2014 and has completed a residency program.

The day closed with the New Dentist Reception held at Penn Social, capping what Dr. Leblanc called a “successful” conference.

“We still kept the intimate setting and kept the identity of the conference,” he said. “We want new dentists to have a voice, and we’ll plan to build on this success.”