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‘The field values women in dentistry and wants them to succeed’

June 03, 2019

By David Burger

San Francisco — Women in dentistry have a powerful opportunity not only to model stress mastery techniques but also to contribute to a more calm, mindful experience for their patients and staff.

Ms. Hanna
Ms. Hanna
That’s the mantra of Heidi Hanna, one of three thought leaders scheduled to deliver keynote sessions at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress as part of the Women in Dentistry Leadership Series in September.

Even though not one of the three keynote speakers are dentists, they said they are cognizant of the challenges and opportunities female dentists face in their workplaces and lives. The series will, over three days, provide a tailored blend of lectures, workshops and chats with Ms. Hanna, Alison Ledgerwood, Ph.D., and Alison Levine that will help connect female dentists with one another.

All events, sponsored by Crest + Oral B, provide continuing education credit. Small group workshops and chats will follow each keynote.

“Women face specific challenges in dentistry, including being underrepresented in leadership positions and, as in many other professions, a wage gap,” said Dr. Ledgerwood. “Providing conference programming geared specifically toward supporting women in the profession is an important step, both in terms of providing specific content that can help support women as well as in terms of communicating that the field values women in dentistry and wants them to succeed.”

Ms. Ledgerwood
First on the docket on Sept. 5 is Ms. Levine, team captain of the first American women’s Mount Everest expedition and author of the best-selling book “On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Everest and Other Extreme Environments.”

Exploring the parallels between extreme adventure and success and discovering the importance of willpower and determination in meeting aspirations are the objectives of the session.

“I’m going to give tips on how to overcome obstacles and tackle challenges in any kind of extreme environment,” said Ms. Levine.

Second in the series, on Sept. 6, is Dr. Ledgerwood, professor and Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Davis and popular TEDx speaker, with her keynote called Getting Unstuck from Negative Thinking.

Dr. Ledgerwood told the ADA News, “I’ll be describing behavioral science research suggesting that focusing on negative information is a very basic, common and even adaptive human tendency — but this same tendency can also make it hard to move past negative events and celebrate the positives in life.”

Ms. Levine
Dr. Ledgerwood added, “I hope that attendees feel empowered to take action to make their lives, their professions and their workplaces more positive.”

Ms. Hanna is the third special guest, scheduled to deliver a keynote, The Cure for Stress, on Sept. 7. Ms. Hanna is a best-selling author, experienced speaker and authority on brain-based health.

Ms. Hanna said women are hard-wired to experience stress differently, and if they understand their unique stress reactions, they can use them to master stress so that they don’t feel overstimulated, overwhelmed and exhausted.

“When we try to manage stress by ignoring it or pushing it away, it becomes harmful instead of helpful,” she said. “But when we learn why it’s there, appreciate how it’s trying to help us and then make simple, strategic adjustments to use the energy and information it provides to fuel positive change, stress can build us up rather than break us down.”

Ms. Hanna said that research shows that the typical stress reaction pattern of women is not “fight or flight,” which is primarily adrenaline- and testosterone-based, but “tend and befriend,” which is fueled by higher levels of estrogen and oxytocin. This means that women experiencing stress have greater resilience and more capacity to problem solve effectively when they connect with other women, she said.

“Which makes Women in Dentistry a perfect example of how the female brain can thrive and accomplish more in relationship with others,” Ms. Hanna said.

Two networking and leadership lesson events will also be held in conjunction with the Women in Dentistry Leadership Series, an opportunity to network, share knowledge and learn from women dentists established in their fields in a structured format. They are scheduled on Sept. 5 (5160) and Sept. 6 (6160) from 9:30-11 a.m. each day. One CE credit will be offered for each and are $15 each.

The Women in Dentistry schedule is:
  • Lessons from the Ledge (5161), Sept. 5, 1:30-3 p.m., Ms. Levine.
  • More Lessons from the Ledge: A Fireside Chat with Alison Levine (5162), Sept. 5, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Ms. Levine.
  • Getting Unstuck from Negative Thinking (6161), Sept. 6, 1:30-3 p.m., Dr. Ledgerwood.
  • Negative Thinking Workshop: Tools for Getting Unstuck (6162), Sept. 6, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m, Dr. Ledgerwood.
  • The Cure for Stress (7161), Sept. 7, 12:30-2 p.m., Ms. Hanna.
  • Transforming Stress for Good Workshop (7162), Sept. 7, 2:30-4 p.m., Ms. Hanna.

The cost is $50 per keynote session or all three for $100. The Sept. 5 fireside chat with Ms. Levine is $25, while the Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 workshops are $75 each.

Crest + Oral-B is honored to sponsor the Women in Dentistry Leadership Series for the third year, said Stephanie Gans, North America professional and scientific relations manager for Procter & Gamble, in a statement. “Our goal is to provide women in dentistry the tools they need to excel and flourish as leaders in their communities. We hope participants will enjoy the opportunity to network and learn from accomplished female leaders who have been successful in their own right,” Ms. Gans said.

The ADA FDI World Dental Conference is scheduled for Sept. 4-8 in San Francisco. Register at