‘I came to the New Dentist Conference to learn’

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Drs. Taylor Bard and Laura Capron just graduated from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine less than six months ago but both were in the front row at the opening session of the New Dentist Conference, ready for more continuing education and inspiration.

“I came to the New Dentist Conference to get exposed to new ideas,” said Dr. Capron, a general dentist in Montana.

“You’re always continuing to learn,” said Dr. Bard, who is doing her general practice residency in North Carolina.

The New Dentist Conference — a customized experience created for dentists less than 10 years out of school — is being held in conjunction with the ADA annual meeting, and hundreds of dentists convened in the Colorado Convention to meet up with former classmates, meet new colleagues and learn from one another.

The theme of the first day of the two-day conference was leadership, with most of the ADA officers and trustees in attendance in the morning. They were individually introduced along with their New Dentist Committee representative.

Dr. Robert Bitter, 8th District trustee, said he enjoying spending the morning interacting with the new dentists.

“Being around young people makes you feel young,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to be with these young people. It’s an energizing experience.”

Dr. Andrew J. Kwasny, 3rd District trustee and the Board of Trustees liaison to the New Dentist Committee, said that in his conversations with new dentists, they wanted more contact with ADA leadership. “We want to be there for them,” he said.

After the introductions, ADA President Carol Gomez Summerhays and ADA Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin spoke and answered questions in a brief Q-and-A.

Both Drs. Summerhays and O’Loughlin talked about the importance of finding and trusting mentors, with the former remarking that she reconnected with one of hers, Dr. Peter Dawson, at the ADA Opening General Session that convened just prior to the New Dentist Conference. Dr. Dawson received the Distinguished Service Award.

One of the questions was about crushing student loan debt, and Dr. Summerhays recommended that she look into ADA’s exclusive student loan refinancing offer with DRB, a leader in debt consolidation. As a new member benefit, the ADA exclusively endorses DRB’s student loan refinancing program providing opportunities for ADA members to refinance existing federal and private undergraduate and graduate school loans at a 0.25 percent lower rate than DRB’s already low rates.

Those remarks were followed by the keynote speaker, Peter Sheahan, founder and group CEO of Karrikins Group, whose speech was sponsored by AXA Equitable and Great-West Financial. He is known internationally for his business thinking and thought leadership and has advised leaders from companies as diverse as Apple, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Hyundai, IBM, Pfizer, Wells Fargo and Cardinal Health. He has been named one of the 25 Most Influential Speakers in the World by the National Speakers Association and is the youngest person ever to be inducted into their industry Hall of Fame.

Mr. Sheahan talked about finding opportunity in disruption to create more value as a dentist.

“There are four strategies for differentiating yourself in the new dental reality,” he told the crowd. “Move toward the disruption. Take intelligent risks. Elevate your impact. Engage and collaborate.”

“Good can be the enemy of great,” Mr. Sheahan continued. “Be restless. Never be satisfied with the status quo.”

He also stressed the power of positive thinking. “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right,” Mr. Sheahan said. “There has never been a better time to be a dentist.”

The first day of the New Dentist Conference also featured an awards ceremony. The honorees included:

  • Gold Medal Fellow: Dr. Shaoping Zhang.
  • Golden Apple Award for New Dentist Leadership: Dr. Richard Dath Collins.
  • Outstanding New Dentist Committee Award: the Hawaii Dental Association Young Dentist Group, with Dr. Steven Wilhite, president of the Hawaii Dental Association, accepting.

In addition, the New Dentist Conference included several “Campfire Sessions,” designed to be small, peer-to-peer learning sessions, such as: Getting Involved; Advocacy & You; and Idea Exchange.

Dr. Eric Childs is the 9th District representative of the New Dentist Committee, and said that he hoped that new dentists in attendance would make the most of the experience. “They can find great networking for their career with other new dentists,” he said.

Then, former New Dentist Committee representative Dr. Samuel Willens chimed in. “Not just new dentists, but thousands of other dentists.”

The New Dentist Conference continues today.

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