I’d never made the effort to attend previous American Dental Association annual meetings, but since it was held in my home town of San Antonio this year, I had to attend and I had to get involved. It was a great experience and I’m so glad I did! Here’s just a few things that made it great.
1. Catching up with Friends and Mentors -I ran into faculty and leadership from my dental school, Nova Southeastern University, and it was great to see some familiar faces that knew me way back when I was just getting into this profession that we respect and cherish. I love these opportunities when I get to thank influential people in my career that have shaped who I am today. I got to catch up with all of my San Antonio colleagues, dental students that I’ve taught here at UTHSCSA, and colleagues of mine from all over Texas and the US.
2. Volunteering -I love taking advantage of volunteer opportunities at events. It usually gives you a behind the scenes look at how events work and connects you with the people that make it happen. Organizing things at this level fascinates me, and the hard work and dedication of my fellow dentists that make these things happen is inspiring. Hosting speakers is a great way to get to know leaders in dentistry from around the country. I also volunteered at the ADA’s Mission of Mercy on Sunday the the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Dental care was delivered to more than 1,000 patients in need at no charge. It was so much fun to work side by side with other dentists that I’m friends with in San Antonio.
3. Learning -The ADA meeting offers an unbelievable amount of continuing education opportunities for dentists at all stages of their careers. I took a course on one of my favorite topics, pediatric dentistry. I particularly love roaming around the exhibit hall and learning about new products and services that are available to dentists. It’s like a dental magazine or catalog come to life! Meeting the people that think of ways to help us dentists serve our patients better, work more efficiently, and make our lives easier can be really enjoyable. I learned about a lot of products that I want to try out soon that are going enhance the experience that patients have at my practice.
4. Connections -I love writing. I enjoy creating blog posts, sharing what I’ve learned with other dentists, and helping patients understand things about their dental health. I made an effort at ADA to connect with some companies and magazines that I’d like to get involved with in a capacity where I’m doing some writing for them. Way back when, I was the Editor in Chief of my high school newspaper, Hawk Talk. Should I start putting that on my resume?!
5. Supporting my wife, the ADA Spokesperson! Ana’s one of the newest spokespeople for the American Dental Association. She was interviewed for several news stories related to the ADA Mission of Mercy in both English and Spanish. She also appeared in some videos used at the meeting to educate other dentists about ADA365. While she was being interviewed for Univision 41 at the Mission of Mercy, I held her purse, because that’s what husbands do. This has been such an exciting opportunity for her and we’re all really proud of her. I posted lots of links and pics from her appearances on our social media, so if you’re curious to see it, check our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. BTW, why aren’t you following us on social media? We’re doing it up right, so check it out.
I was sitting at a table with some good friends at a special Texas Dental Association reception last Saturday night, looking around at a room full of leaders from all over the state having a great time. Just by being involved, I’ve gotten to know quite a few people in that room. Many are excellent public speakers. Many are excellent educators. Many know politics. Many are excellent clinicians that inspire others. Many are just leaders of men and women that make things happen. Many are generous with their time. Many are generous with their money. The important thing is that everyone brings something to the table, and everything at that table is needed and highly valued. There’s one thing that everyone in that room has in common, besides being a dentist, and that’s a deep understanding that you have to give back. Giving back is what makes it all work. It’s what paves the road for the next generation of dentists and raises the standards of the quality of care in dentistry. I surround myself with this caliber of people, and good things keep happening.