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A delegates personal perspective of the Young Dentist Conference Sydney 2013

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A delegates personal perspective of the Young Dentist Conference Sydney 2013

If you were passing through Darling Quarter on Saturday the 23rd of August this year with a keen ear... may have overheard snippets of conversation with words like "implants", "injections" and "magician" being bandied around by a crowd of well-dressed and intelligent people having a great time.

No doubt you would have hurried along with a perplexed look upon your face, but let me explain... when you bring together a 300 strong contingent representing the future of Australian Dentistry, a solid programme featuring educational and entertaining keynote speakers and a not-to-be-missed social networking opportunity, magic happens (in all senses of the word). The Young Dentist Conference of 2013 promised an event that was informative, inspirational and innovative; it delivered that and so much more.

As a recent graduate I had heard good things about the inaugural Young Dentist Conference (YDC) last year which was another sell out event. With CPD a compulsory requirement I was on the lookout for seminars with content aimed towards young dentists and the YDC was one of the few that ticked all the boxes. This year's YDC largely followed the same formula which made 2012's a resounding success – a perfectly executed programme consisting of clinically-oriented talks by the movers and shakers in our profession coupled with an entertaining motivational speaker and a fantastic social function at Stacks Taverna to close.

As it was my first time I had high expectations and the conference exceeded them. Speaking to my colleagues at the networking function, we all agreed that the content was well targeted to new graduates and as a result we were all able to take something away and add it to our growing knowledge bank.

When the day kicked off my brain was like a sponge ready to absorb anything that passed through my ears and it was a good that Professor Tara Renton opened proceedings with a fantastic lecture on surgical extractions and nerve injuries. Not to be outdone, the irrepressible Dr. Kevin Lewis followed up with an inspiring keynote presentation about thinking outside the box and provided excellent advice on how to self-improve as a clinician, colleague and an individual. We were absolutely spoiled by the artistry and showmanship from Vinh Giang, the psychological illusionist, who using the vehicle of magic awoke the inner child inside all of us and showed us that indeed the only obstacle standing in our way of achieving our aspirations is ourselves. To round off the day we were privileged to have Dr. John McNamara speak about endodontics, an area of dentistry that can bring both great satisfaction and stress to the unsuspecting young dentist.

With useful tips, advice and a good dose of caution I came away from the conference hopefully a little wiser but definitely with a renewed passion for learning. I'd like to share with you the most important things I took away from the day.

  • With any procedure your communication skills are as important as your clinical skills. It's important to get on the front foot with communication especially with higher-risk procedures such as oral surgery or endodontics. Always take the initiative to follow up on the patient through either a review appointment or perhaps a quick phone call the morning after. It sets you apart from other clinicians and if things go wrong (as they do from time to time in dentistry) you're already taking a proactive and assertive approach to finding the solution by contacting the patient first.
  • Dentistry can teach us a lot but we can also learn to be better clinicians and individuals through looking outside our field of study. In particular psychology has a big role to play in managing ourselves, our staff and our patients. When I first started practising I felt that I knew everything for the first couple of months, then after a few mistakes my confidence dropped and I had a newfound fear when doing certain procedures. I kept telling my friends I had lost my mojo for dentistry and it was only after the conference I understood why. When you learn any new skill or trade you go through a circle of competencies starting from "unconscious incompetence" which is the starting point for all new graduates, going through to "conscious incompetence" which is that doubtful stage in your career that hopefully doesn't last too long. After several months in the wilderness, talking to my mentor and gaining more experience, I can confidently say I've reached the third stage on the wheel which is "conscious competence" in most procedures and I'm quite happy to stay here. The final stage is "unconscious competence" which is when you do so well you don't know how good you are! So bearing this in mind I'm okay feeling a little lost when doing something for the first time and it's all part of the process in gaining competency.
  • The only thing holding us back from being great is being satisfied with being good. The greatest asset you can have is a great attitude.
  • Dental talk goes down a lot better with a french martini in one hand and a strawberry caipiroska in the other.

Best of luck young dentists and hope to see you at the Young Dentist Conference 2014 which is sure to be another sterling event.

Andrew Wong graduated from the University of Sydney in 2012 and is a young dentist currently working in private and public clinics.


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