Two weeks into my second year of dental school I received an email notifying me that I had been selected to be fully funded to go to the National Leadership Conference in Chicago. I was excited to travel to a new city and experience the conference with my peers. Little did I know this new experience would also help me view my profession in a new way.
My first year of dental school I wasn’t as involved in ASDA as I could have been. I went to many of the lunch and learns and participated in weekend events when I had time. Up until this point I hadn’t really taken much of an interest in the power that ASDA and organized dentistry could provide me. After this conference I realized that it would be silly to continue on in my dental education without pursuing this essential side of dentistry as well.
Our dental schools do the job of teaching us what we will do as dentists as far as procedures and patient care goes. Unfortunately the time we spend in school is so limited that we barely touch on how to excel as a dentist in our profession. These characteristics are often times intangible and may have the potential to make or break us as dentists. This conference addressed many of these characteristics with sessions on practice management, ethics, finance, patient management, running a successful private practice, and many others. We got to hear from numerous talented speakers and new dentists on their transitions from school to practice and the qualities that make a good leader.
Even though I am in the deep dark cave of second year, at this conference I got a glimpse of the sweet fresh air that awaits us as dentists. This conference broadened my perspective and reminded me that dentistry is so much more than exams and lab practicals. Thankfully we will have the ability to be successful by treating our patients with tact and making smart decisions in our practice. While we may not have all of these skills right now as students, ASDA and the ADA give us the opportunities and connections to gain these skills and become successful dentists.