For Immediate Release
Date: Oct 7th, 2010
Contact: Dr. John Thompson
What If …?
The second weekend in April has come and gone. It was not Easter, Mother’s Day, high school or college graduation and the weather was great. The second weekend of April was in conflict with less than half the school district spring breaks. The second weekend in April this year was perhaps the best date we have had in years for our annual Kentucky Dental Association Meeting. The KDA staff and all of the volunteer committees had done their work. The Continuing Education programs were well planned and the early registration was encouraging.
Our partners in the dental supply industry had made the commitment of buying space as exhibitors and providing extensive staffing to present the latest in both material and technology. Vendors committed their presence to display the ancillary services that small business requires to operate. Invitations and programs were prepared and mailed for the second weekend of April 2010 so that our members could schedule the event and make plans for the additional meetings that take place during the weekend. The second weekend of April 2010 was special because it also marked the 150th anniversary of the KDA for which a Gala Celebration was planned.
I attended our meeting the second weekend of April and thoroughly enjoyed the meetings, the CE, the exhibits, the professional camaraderie and the parties that ebbed and flowed in the Hyatt and surrounding restaurants. The question that gnawed at me from the first day of this meeting was, “What if you gave a party and nobody came?” It was my observation that there were simply too few KDA members in attendance to justify the efforts and expense that went into a very well planned and well staffed weekend meeting. This was echoed by too many of our faithful exhibitors to be ignored. I find myself writing this opinion exactly one year after I had written of my observations regarding the 2009 Kentucky Meeting and pleading for improved attendance for this meeting. I know that many of our largest exhibitors will be reducing their investment in future meetings based on our participation in our own meeting these past two years.
Tradition is wonderful until it begins to beat you down. Our tradition of a spring meeting might well be a part of the problem, as so many have suggested a September date as a better alternative. After Labor Day the schedule does seem to ease except for college football, but I would find it a lot easier to blow off a football game than most of the traditional spring conflicts. In my opinion we are going to need considerably less exhibit space in the future and any venue that provides a less spread out meeting may increase personal contacts within the exhibit areas. This year a hospitality area in the middle of the exhibit area was a nice touch, but again too few even noticed or availed its use. There are quite a few ideas being floated and all ideas are welcome for consideration as change is imminent.
The KDA House of Delegates addressed these observations on Sunday, the closing session of our meeting, and provided suggestions that were referred to our meeting planners. The logistical issues will be addressed and the association will take appropriate steps to accommodate the numerical facts. However; it is not numbers as much as attitude that concerns me. The numbers are a sign, attitude is the disease.
Our professional dental license gives us the privilege of providing care for our patients, not the right to provide that care. The privilege has an obligation for both lifetime learning and professional growth. Formal continuing education is a measurable commodity that we assign hours of attendance as the value. The opportunity for face to face dialog with our practicing colleagues, our educators, the exhibitors, technical representatives and management consultants is never greater than while attending a well organized dental meeting. It is the responsibility of our association to provide that opportunity as an essential member benefit. The Kentucky Dental Association has always met or exceeded that requirement.
It is my opinion that the value of this meeting has not been diminished, but perception of the need for a meeting has. I know that social networking has significantly altered what we now call personal relationships. Being a friend has become a very diluted term and face to face has been somewhat replaced by “Facebook”. Like it or not we vote for what we value by our participation and in the last several years we have been increasingly voting that our meeting is not important to the membership. Whether we change the date to September or have a non conflicted date in April will make no difference if we do not change our attitude and see it as a priority.
I invite every member of the Kentucky Dental Association to give thought to the relevance of our meeting and provide feedback, guidance, ideas, or criticism to your executive board member or write a letter to this editor. Change for the sake of change will be futile unless a broad base of consensus is driving that change. What I am enjoying as editor is that I am charged more with observation and commentary. I don’t make policy and I enjoy watching the youth of this profession taking charge and providing the leadership as we advance the profession. It is time for the core membership to look at many of the services we provide as an organization and ask the question, “What if…?”