A Superlative ADEA Gathering in Denver

Dr. Richard ValachovicIn this month’s letter, ADEA President & CEO Dr. Rick Valachovic shares what you might have missed at the 2016 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition.

It’s hard to believe that just one month ago, I was a mile above sea level, conversing with many of you, celebrating the progress we’ve made on so many fronts and gathering fresh perspectives on the future challenges and opportunities that await dental education

As always, this year’s ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition offered a chance to learn about and discuss myriad topics. These included calibration, communication, collaboration, cultural competency, comprehensive care, course design and CODA accreditation—and that’s just the Cs! Interprofessional education, dental assisting and dental hygiene, evidence-based dentistry and primary care also took center stage. No matter what your areas of interest, you can find links to session descriptions on the 2016 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition electronic Program Planner. By logging onto the site with your email and Annual Session registration ID, you can also obtain a wealth of presentation materials.

Meanwhile—to give you a taste of the event itself—here are a few standouts:

Most Eye-Catching Attendee: The Big Blue Bear, a 40-foot high sculpture that has been peering into the Colorado Convention Center since its installation as part of a public art program in 2005.

Most Incongruous Sensation: The warmth of the sun that greeted us on Friday and the snow visible on the Rocky Mountain peaks about 60 miles to the west. (We didn’t know how lucky we were. A week later, a blizzard with 20 inches of snow slammed into the Denver Metro Area and Colorado’s Front Range, knocking out power, closing schools and shutting down Denver International Airport.)

Most Unexpected Sight: The parade of young dancers making their way, with parents and costume trunks in tow, to the dance competition at the other end of the convention hall.

Most Rude Awakening: The clock jumping forward an hour Sunday morning.

Most Pleasant Surprise: Only a few marijuana jokes, and one serious presentation—How Marijuana Legislation Is Shaping Tomorrow—on the drug’s oral health impacts.

Biggest Blast From the Past: The reprinted 1924 Annual Session program, distributed at the Opening Plenary.

Most Entrepreneurial Moment: When start-up the Safe-D-Needle (one of eight new vendors to exhibit this year!) took its first order in the Exhibition Hall.

Most Glamorous Event: The 2016 William J. Gies Awards for Vision, Innovation and Achievement, which was accompanied by Tin Brother, a jazzy bluegrass string band that received rave reviews.

Most Awe-Inspiring Talk: Allison Levine’s description at the Opening Plenary of the first American women’s expedition to Mount Everest.

Most Empowering Session: Brenda Allen’s interactive Q&A during the Evening Plenary on Gender Issues.

Most Partisan Moment: The ADEA Political Spotlight, during which Karl Rove and Howard Dean talked about the Affordable Care Act. Rove wants the future to look like Medicare Part D; Dean says the future will look like Massachusetts, with insurers and health systems coming together to function as one.

Most Amusing Remark: That’s a tough one, but I think all the contending lines were uttered by Karl Rove.

Most Tech-Savvy Location: The ADEA Tech Expo, launched as the Technology Fair in 1999, now in its 18th year!

Most Information Conveyed Per Minute: The ever-popular Short Talks session on using emerging technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

Most (Virtual) Distance Traveled: A discussion of best practices for creating high-quality online education for novice learners, graduate students and practicing professionals.

Most Motivating Suggestion: “If we want to drive the best outcomes for our patients, we need to think of ourselves as innovators.” Tuesday’s Plenary speaker Josh Linkner.

Most Gracious Participants: The folks at the University of Colorado School of Dentistry, who offered visitors a terrific tour of their new facility followed by a delicious lunch, and the visitors who waited patiently while staff arranged alternative transportation to the site.

Most Moving Moment: Ron Rupp’s remarks upon receiving the 2016 ADEA Distinguished Service Award. I’ve known Ron for nearly 20 years and already knew how losing the full use of his right hand in a skiing accident changed the course of his career. But hearing him share that story and the joy he has received through his affiliation with ADEA reminded me of how fortunate we are in dental education to have people with so much passion for the well-being of our profession and our community.

Most Globally Cooperative Occurrence: Too many to choose from here. On Monday, ADEA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with one of our sister organizations, the Japanese Dental Education Association, marking an important moment in our effort to expand our collaborations with our international colleagues. There was also a well-attended session discussing dental therapy practices in Rwanda and Minnesota. I must also give a shout-out to our Association for Dental Education in Europe colleagues, who joined us to continue planning for the first joint ADEA/ADEE meeting, to be held in London in May 2017.

Best Glimpse of the Future: Once again, too many contenders in this category for a single pick. The awarding of scholarships to students pursuing preventive dentistry or academic careers? Discussion of an interprofessional clinic run by students at the University of Colorado? Students explaining their posters in the Exhibition Hall? ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program participants organizing themselves for a group photo on the stairs of the convention center? All these moments were nothing short of inspiring. If these young people are any indication, the future of dental education looks exceedingly bright!

Most Summative Moment: I was with ADEA Past Chair of the Board Lily Garcia Monday evening, and she recounted an experience that captures the essence of our annual gatherings. Over the weekend, she ran into a former dental student. She was delighted to learn that he had matured into a family man and returned to dental school—this time as an educator. As a first-time ADEA Annual Session attendee, he was overwhelmed by the abundance of opportunities, so she guided him to a seminar designed specifically for new faculty. “That’s what it’s all about,” she told me. “Being able to get new faculty the tools they need, keeping mid-level faculty engaged, and keeping the seasoned folks like us energized and involved.” I couldn’t agree more.

Greatest Regret: That not every ADEA member could be with us in Denver. I hope this brief recap inspires you to join us next year in Long Beach, California, where we will endeavor to move Beyond Boundaries.

1 comment
  1. Terri Dolan said:

    Love the recap – you did a great job capturing the spirit of the experience. It was a wonderful meeting with so many memorable components. Well done! Terri

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