Wednesday was a BIG day as Team Travel (Stacey Hemmel, Jerri Wildhaber and me) loaded the prize wagon and headed off to UMKC SOD. It was National Signing Day for the D4s where they “Level Up” their membership from student to DDS designation. We set up our wares in the hallway and the students drop by to fill out their application and get their gifts — a Chairside Instructor book from the ADA, a gift card from the MDA, some fun freebies, plus a raffle for five grand prizes. Congrats to the winners: Tony Raper, Katie Jenie, Bryce Childers, Adam Done and Daniel Canaday.
We also have a fun photo booth where we capture their smiling faces on this momentous day. This simple step is crucial for helping our newly minted dentists “land softly” wherever they go next — residency, out of state, somewhere in MO, military, etc. It can be jarring to leave the cocoon of school and try to create those same connections again in a new place. We, as organized dentistry, need to be there to greet them and pull them into the family.
In between all this fanfare, we hosted a Food for Thought with Dr. Jay Brown from Joplin as our speaker. He did a great job lining out the pros and cons of different career paths while sharing his journey as well. The festivities continued into the evening when Blake from MedPro hosted a D4 reception at a nearby restaurant. This was a more relaxed celebration. For fun we had the students compete in a putt off for the Benny Fitz Cup. After a hard fought battle, Leina Mizusawa, came out on top. It was a full day of action. Thanks to all who helped make it happen and who leveled up to become dentist members.
Side story: At lunch we ran into some men who may or may not have been the original model for our Benny Fitz student mascot. We couldn’t resist taking a photo. See my chest design for comparison.
Time to Fire Up in Joplin
The next day we headed down to Joplin to welcome Missouri’s latest dental school, KCU School of Dental Medicine, to the mix. They will launch their first class of 80 pioneers this July. We were on hand for a brief tour and a meeting of the minds to let the administration know how much we wish to support their students. Our hosts were Dean Dr. Linda Niessen and associate deans, Dr. Dennis Abbott and Dr. Erinne Kennedy. They were so hospitable and gracious. Their enthusiasm was contagious. We talked about ribbon cuttings, orientation, FFT, ASDA, special events and more. It’s exciting (and a little nerve racking) to finalize everything in advance of a new adventure. Good luck to all of them! I can’t wait to post photos of their students in action. Plus, as director of MDA’s Dental Well Being Foundation, I love Dr. Kennedy’s commitment to emphasis wellness and resilience with their students. It’s a tough world out there, and we need to take care of ourselves and one another — especially in a gauntlet like dental school.
Thursday evening we stayed around for the Southwest Dental Society meeting led by SWDS President, Dr. Alex Talbott and Treasurer, Dr. Mike LaFerla. There was much discussion about new dental student outreach and how having a dental school helps with location and speakers for good CE. Did you know that Joplin is the smallest U.S. city with a dental school? What a privilege! MDA President, Dr. Jeremy Bowen, was on hand to bring everyone up to speed on all things MDA including last week’s Missouri Dental Board approval for a pilot program for Oral Preventative Assistants. Learn more here. For a small component, it was good to see a mix of both young and previously young members. There was a good vibe and people were stepping into volunteer roles and supporting the C4$ Raffle. I call that a good night — plus the beverage, steak and dessert were a real treat. Thank you for having us.
SEDS Meets Today
Team Travel has not yet figured out jet propulsion, so we were sad to miss out on the golf and business meeting over in Southeast Missouri today. I know it went well.
The Week Ahead
Your scribe is taking the week off for a North Carolina hiking adventure with his son and daughter in law so there won’t be a blog next week, but there is plenty of MDA action including a full agenda at next Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Quote of the Week
“People who end up ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” — Condoleezza Rice