The Daily Grind offers readers a glimpse into the life of general dentists practicing today. Each post offers a perspective on managing a dental practice or balancing a life outside of the practice. The Daily Grind is written by several general dentist and student members of AGD. All content published on The Daily Grind is property of the Academy of General Dentistry and cannot be reposted or reprinted without permission.

My First AGD Scientific Session

  • by Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA
  • Aug 14, 2017, 08:30 AM

It only took me 30 years to attend my first AGD Scientific Session.

“Where does the time go?”

I hear that expression all the time. When I was younger, I just did not get it. For the first 36 years of my life, my life changed every two to six years. Elementary school lasted six years; junior high, three years; and high school, four years. (We had Grade 13 back then!) It took me four years to earn my Bachelor of Science degree and two years to earn my master’s degree. I spent another four years in dental school, three years in the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Calgary and then four years in an associateship. My life pattern was to move so regularly that the passage of time consistently was met with significant change. During those times, I just did not understand the expression.

Then, in May 1994, everything changed. I bought my dental practice from a wonderful colleague who was retiring. I settled in one place. I sold it in 2014, 20 years later, and worked in that practice another for three years. Twenty-three years in one place. Where did that time go? Now, I understand the aforementioned expression, from personal experience.

When I was a student at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, AGD had a small presence there. There were newsletters, and AGD reached out to the students. AGD’s communication pieces about continuing education (CE) after graduation, which would extend beyond what my alma mater would provide, was fascinating. I was unfamiliar with learning outside the formal academic setting, as I was about to complete the equivalent of Grade 23 of my educational journey. When I told some of my clinical instructors that I had not really thought about where I would be receiving my CE (what do you mean I don’t go back to the university for all my education needs?), I was encouraged to join AGD upon graduation — and I did just that. I am sure glad I did.

When I arrived in Calgary to begin my service to my country as a dental officer with the Canadian Forces at CFB Calgary, it was made clear that AGD is a significant organization, and I was strongly encouraged to join it. I was happy to say that I was already a member, and that was met with immediate approval. I learned early about the close ties that the various branches of the military dental corps in North America have with AGD.

It has always been my intention to work toward and attain my AGD Fellowship Award. I achieved two of the three main requirements (successive years of membership in good standing and more than 500 hours of approved CE) in fairly quick order. But after 23 years of school, I was finding every reason to avoid taking yet another examination.

So there I was, 30 years after graduating from dental school in 1987, sitting in a classroom in the middle of a ballroom at Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas, taking the Fellowship Exam Review Course, preparing to take my exam — and attending my very first AGD Scientific Session.

While it will be more than two months before I get the results of the examination (once I pass, whether now or when I retake it if I fail, I plan to write a blog post about the examination experience), I wish to take this opportunity to share my thoughts about the AGD Scientific Session.

I have never attended one of the “big AGD meetings.” I knew AGD has more than 40,000 members worldwide. I also know that Las Vegas is a pretty attractive place to go. I had no idea how many of our colleagues would be attending the event. It was a really nice-sized group.

The result was that the lectures were accessible. The topics were broad-reaching and relevant. The class sizes were small enough that individual questions could be easily entertained, enhancing my personal learning experience.

And the exhibit hall experience was also much better than I expected it to be. It was large enough to have a really broad array of businesses present that help our practice and personal lives to be better, but the room was well laid out and inviting with wide aisles, and the vendors were friendly and helpful.

And the staff and volunteers? Top-notch. They were so nice, they’d fit right in as Canadians!

It took me 30 years to finally experience my first AGD Scientific Session, and with next year’s event in June 2018 in New Orleans, it will only be 11 months before I attend my second one. I hope to see and meet many of you there!

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