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Make Things Happen in Your State with a New Dentist Committee

After receiving her D.D.S. from Virginia Commonwealth School of Dentistry in 2013, Dr. B. Alexandra Barton moved to Denver to complete a twelve-month G.P.R. 

“Except for my fellow residents, I didn’t really know any other new dentists in Colorado. Although I didn’t know if I would be staying in the state after my program, I reached out to the Colorado Dental Association who put me in touch with their New Dentist Committee. I wanted to get involved, so I asked the committee chair what I could do to help. Today I am the chair for Social Media and I manage our Facebook page, established and maintain an Instagram account, and keep the more than 900 new dentists in Colorado informed about what’s happening.”

If Dr. Barton had moved to Colorado just four years earlier, she wouldn’t have found the same opportunity. “There had been a New Dentist Committee before, but it had been dormant for a long time due to lack of interest,” observes Jeanne Nicoulin, director of membership for the Colorado Dental Association. “In 2009 staff from the ADA put on a workshop for a handful of new dentists who were interested in seeing if we could make a New Dentist Committee work in the state.”

The experiment has been a success. “The Colorado New Dentist Committee hosts four study clubs each year, with dinner for attendees and live-streaming to those in other parts of the state,” observes Ms. Nicoulin. “That’s on top of the four or five networking or social events every year. We host a speed-dating type event in August to match candidates to jobs, and in the fall there is a political event – the theme for 2013 was insurance companies and we hosted the event in Fort Collins. Our state is very spread out, so we really work to have the events take place in different locations. We just did a ski weekend, and I saw new dentists there who live in the mountains and usually don’t go to anything other than our annual meeting.”

All this activity can be costly, and yet the events don’t charge admission to the new dentist attendees. “We have about 25 companies who pay for an annual sponsorship,” Ms. Nicoulin explains. “We publish an annual resource guide for new dentists that features their advertising, and the revenue offsets the expense of hosting so many varied events.”

Some states, such as the Illinois State Dental Society, have well-established New Dentist Committees. Other states request assistance from the ADA in starting a committee from scratch or in reviving a dormant committee.

“Working with staff from the ADA helped us clarify the committee’s goals and defined the pathway for how we were going to get there,” notes Dr. Jonathan Rich, part of the group of new dentists who re-launched the New Dentist Committee for the Kentucky Dental Association in 2011. “We got a lot of practical advice, including finding out that the committee was already defined in the bylaws, which had the effect of giving us a much more prominent voice in governance than we had expected. It was a real win for everyone.”

Kathy Ridley, director of education and membership for the Illinois State Dental Society emphasizes the importance of a professional approach. “Nobody wants to waste time but new dentists are especially conscious of the limited number of hours available in any given day. If they feel like they’ve had their time wasted because the group doesn’t have its act together, they won’t be back.” The new dentists in Illinois use a number of checklists and templates to plan and execute their many events. “We are appreciative of every dentist who volunteers, and we are also proud of our high standards,” Ms. Ridley adds.

“While I enjoy being involved at this level, I know it’s not for everybody,” says Dr. Barton. “I have friends who don’t choose to serve on a committee and they have a great time attending the study clubs that interest them, or just coming to the social events and enjoying themselves. If you want to take on a leadership role, that’s great, but if you want to just grab a drink and hang out with some wonderful peers, then I think you’ll enjoy that too.”

Although she began her time in Colorado unsure of where she would go after completing her GPR, Dr. Barton has decided to stay in Denver. “Finding a job in such a saturated market is no easy task,” Dr. Barton notes, “but between the formal networking events and the informal word-of-mouth information, I’ve been able to find out about not just available jobs but quality jobs. Having this group has made the transition that much easier for me.”

Learn more about getting involved in your New Dentist Committee or schedule a free New Dentist Committee-building workshop by calling 312.440.2779 or contacting newdentist@ada.org.

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