Hey all! It has been a long time since I wrote an article, but things have been really busy this quarter. I really wanted to take a moment to write about my experience with ASDA’s National Leadership Conference in Chicago.
I have been to a few conferences in my life, but none were ever as engaging or inspirational as the National Leadership Conference. If you are a dental student and a member of ASDA, you need to go to NLC at least once.
The things you will learn from practicing dentists will be invaluable to you in the future. And I can’t say enough good things about the general session speakers they lined up for this year’s conference.
This year, NLC featured three general sessions. The first was given by Kevin Brown, his speech was titled “The Hero Effect – Being Your Best When It Matters the Most.” Kevin displayed both humility and a touch of humor.
I think everyone in the room after his speech left the room thinking that the little things we will do for our patients as future dentists can have a lasting impact and that is something we should strive for.
The second general session was given by Austin Eubanks, a survivor of the Columbine School Shooting. He offered personal insight into the opioid epidemic. He was treated for depression and pain following a gunshot wound he suffered in the ordeal. After his treatment had finished, he was left with a crippling addiction to opiates.
Most of us probably know someone who suffers from addiction in one form or another, but Kevin brought home the realization that we will be responsible for preventing our future patients from falling into the horrible cycle of substance of abuse.
Our last general session was a rousing speech from Derreck Kayango, the founder of the Global Soap Project. As an immigrant to the United States from Uganda, he was shocked to see the wasteful excesses of American life.
While traveling inside the United States, he was surprised to learn that hotel cleaning staff provided new soap and shampoo every day, whether the previous bottle was empty or not.
He came up with a brilliant plan to take unused quantities of soap, shampoo, and other sanitary products, and bring them to nations in desperate need of those products. The Global Soap Project has had a dramatic impact on impoverished nations where midwives once delivered children without the ability to wash their hands between deliveries.
This year’s breakout sessions covered a wide variety of topics. Attendees could learn about everything from dental ethics to public speaking. There was a wide variety of speakers, and every one of them did a fantastic job.
The National Leadership Conference seems to embody the old-world university spirit. Long ago, early universities paid lecturers a fee for every lecture they gave. Students decided if they liked the lecturer or not, and the university didn’t keep lecturers around who didn’t do a good job of satisfying students.
NLC only keeps speakers around who are well liked by conference attendees. Consequently, every speaker knows their stuff and keeps the audience engaged. I sometimes wish that dental school lectures could be like this!
There are numerous breakout sessions going on simultaneously, so attendees may choose what looks most interesting to them. The schedule for this year’s event may be found here.
I learned so much at NLC this year. From starting a practice to managing my employees, I feel that much of what was covered will help me as I enter this great profession.
There are tons of opportunities to network at NLC. Our school is in ASDA’s region 10, and we had some events with other schools from our region. We also took some time to get to know some of the students at ASDOH which is just across town from us.
If nothing else though, everyone gets to know their classmates a lot better on a trip like this. I forged new and lasting friendships with several classmates, and I don’t think anyone can put a price on that.
Chicago is a great place to get drinks, eat great food, and have a good time. A group of us went to one of the best cocktail bars in the country – The Aviary. If you want great drinks with a creative flair, then you really should drop in. Make sure you get a reservation though, it fills up sometimes weeks in advance!
See You Next Year!
Seriously, don’t hesitate if you get the chance to go. I had a blast, and so did all of my classmates. Even if you have to pay your own way, it is worth it in my opinion. The memories will last a lifetime and the relationships will too.
I hope to see you there next year!