I can vaguely recall my first Greater New York Dental Meeting. I must have been about 10 years old when I followed my father, Joseph Salierno, DDS, around the convention floor. I had collected a pretty large bag of toothpaste, stickers, and the other kinds of goodies that nice sales reps hand out to kids. The next time we went to a GNYDM together was during my first year of dental school. All I really wanted then was a brand new Buffalo knife for my lab work. Unfortunately they don't just hand those out.
During dental school and the years that followed, I began to love conferences. I believe they are the greatest way to get inspired, learn new techniques, and expand the range of services you provide. The best and brightest in lecturing share their pearls and make us view our next case differently. After we fill our minds with CE, we fill our hearts and souls with the friendship of our colleagues from across the country (and world). My interest in attending dental trade shows evolved from grabbing freebies as a kid to grabbing CE as an adult. But I think my favorite part is the collection of relationships we develop over time. It rejuvenates me.
I keep hearing that dental conferences are in trouble these days. Attendance is down, vendors spend less on booths or pull out entirely, and costs keep going up. It sounds a bit like the troubles we can run into within our practices - fewer patients coming through the door, patients spending less, and rising costs of keeping the doors open. We devote a good amount of space on the pages of DE discussing how to turn around a slow practice, so why not do the same for dental trade shows?
I had a very candid interview with Robert Edwab, DDS, who has been the executive director of the GNYDM since 2003. He has some interesting ideas about why some conferences are suffering and how they can stay afloat. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, I think we can all agree that change is needed. Stalling conferences, like stalling dental offices, must actively find ways to turn the tide. They can't be afraid of changing older systems. A great example is how the ADA has rebranded their "Annual Session" as "America's Dental Meeting." If you didn't make it to San Antonio last month, then you missed a conference that is successfully reinventing dental trade shows.
I can't imagine a future without dental conferences. It would just seem so ... lonely. I know it can be tough to steal away some time from our practices to attend a conference. It also means time away from family, unless you bring them along like my father brought me. Whether your practice is struggling or in its prime, there is always value in walking away from it for a few days to see what else is possible.
Chris Salierno, DDS
email: [email protected]