Attending a dental convention can be overwhelming. Educational panels, shiny new technology and product representatives all vie for your attention while you hustle through a hall filled with colleagues you haven't yet met. How can you get the most out of this whirlwind experience? If you plan ahead, dental conventions and conferences can be a fun and action-packed way to move your career forward.
Plan Your Trip
The first step to enjoying a dental conference is picking one to attend. Do you want to stay local, go for a weekend or travel internationally? Narrow down the possibilities by comparing the courses offered at various dental conventions. You might also pick a convention that focuses on a dental specialty, such as pediatric care or periodontology. Many offer "early bird" pricing if you register several months in advance.
One element to consider is the location of the convention and the costs of lodging and meals in the area. A hotel in Hawaii, for example, will be more expensive than one in Nebraska. Some conventions might also involve paying for a train fare, taxi or rental car to get to the convention center.
Take Classes, Make Connections
Once you choose a conference, create a plan of courses you would like to attend. With an especially busy dental convention, you may have to select from multiple intriguing classes in the same time slot. Look through the full schedule and make a list. Some classes may be offered multiple times throughout the conference.
You should also allow time in your day for networking. Dental conventions offer an outstanding opportunity to make connections with like-minded professionals. Use the time to meet new colleagues with whom you might collaborate in the future. Most conventions offer casual networking events after hours, so take part and enjoy the company! Traveling with a group of friends from your office or dental association can also help you branch out if mingling intimidates you. It's worth the effort to reach out and make new connections.
Walk the Floor
There is more to trade shows than scooping up a bag full of free samples. Being in a room full of vendors lets you touch and try new instruments, furniture and materials without having to purchase them for the office. Exposure to new products that can elevate the way you practice dentistry is one of the biggest perks of dental conventions.
If you're searching for a new ergonomic chair or a pair of loupes, you can often compare multiple sellers in the same place. New technology and tools on display can also help you stay updated on what the market has to offer. If you can, skip the line and book an appointment with a sales rep for a deeper dive.
Lessons to Remember
If you can't pack in everything you want to see, take notes on topics that you want learn more about. Your practice staff might be interested in taking a webinar together about one of the techniques or innovations you explored at the conference. Share your best conference-going tips with co-workers who didn't get to attend, like taking advantage of early pricing, testing equipment and booking sales rep appointments. You can even introduce them to the new colleagues you met in your travels.
Attending a conference provides more opportunities than continuing education credits alone. The buzz and excitement surrounding dental conventions can reignite your passion for your job. Whether you travel across the globe or attend a meeting in your home city, take the time to learn, network and enjoy being surrounded by professionals who share your enthusiasm.
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