July 10, 2013
I just got home from the Pacific Northwest Dental Conference and it was fantastic! I was so worried a few years ago when we learned that WSDA was forced out of the Seattle Convention Center. If you remember, it was because Microsoft wanted our dates. They got them because their meeting sold more hotel rooms. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.
Our PNDC Committee is lead by Dr. Robin Henderson, and includes Drs. C.R.Anderegg Jr., Dennis Bradshaw, John Darling, Mark Kadoshima, Jeanine McDonald, and Joseph Luchini. Our WSDA staff was lead by the amazing Amanda Tran, and includes Craig Mathews and Katie Olson. The team wasted no time worrying and got straight to work. It wasn’t easy, and they really worked hard to create the “new” PNDC.
The conference was split between the Hyatt Hotel and the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. I was surprised that both venues felt so much more intimate than Seattle. I think we actually fit better in Bellevue. Instead of seeing my friends in passing on all those elevators, I got to see them in the hallways. It felt more like going to class at dental school!
I booked a room at the Hyatt. How easy is that? I could drop off my loot, take a quick break, and go out for more. Riding the shuttle was easy. I only had a few minutes wait. Many of the over 6,000 attendees commented that Bellevue was much cleaner, nicer and easier to drive to. I found I was not as exhausted at the end of a busy convention. I stayed around Friday night for dinner with friends, so even the commute home was easy.
I always speaker host, so my lunch is provided. (Hint, hint.) There are so many really great restaurants. I saw many people going to lunch and a enjoying a little shopping together.
Our Thursday night Welcome Reception was terrific. We gave away three large HDTVs and all kinds of gift certificates.
But aren’t we supposed to be here for the continuing education? Yes! This year we added a special Thursday evening session. That allowed us to offer as many as 16.5 hours of continuing education. Those sessions were so successful that we will do the same next year!
This year more people attended workshops than years previously. Several of the workshops sold out. As always, the speakers were outstanding. I like the mix of national and local speakers. We have amazing talent in this state — our Emerald City Lecture Series was very well attended and had very good feedback.
We have received very good feedback from our exhibitors and attendees about the exhibits. There were fewer exhibits, and they were more focused on dentistry. Everyone seemed pleased about that. The free coffee stands outside the exhibit hall were also a huge success.
Drs. Lou Ann Mercier, Robin Henderson and I had fun picking up nice bottles of wine from the Washington Oral Health Foundation’s “Wall of Wine.” Proceeds go towards purchasing more than 2,500 oral hygiene kits for children who need them across the state.
At the Academy of General Dentistry booth I met Eric Statler, an oral cancer survivor and advocate for oral cancer awareness. His enthusiasm is contagious. We discussed the recent news focus on oral cancer and oral sex. He is not a dentist but has a wealth of information. Well done, AGD!
We expected glitches our first year and there were some. Now that we are more familiar with the layout, we will be able to fit speakers to rooms better, as some rooms were too small for some speakers, and for others, too large. Remember, it is better to come early and get a seat because it is hard for us to determine speaker popularity. We are already working on communication and signage. We want better Internet connectivity so we can tell you when a room changes or a class is full. We are even working on reducing the size of coffee lines because we want you alert and happy. We are currently sorting through your comment sheets to make next year even better.
My friend Lou Ann Mericer said it best - “Reconnecting with friends from the past made the meeting more than just CE. To think, in the hall at the PNDC was the last time I spoke with Terry (Grubb). It still gives me pause. I think the meeting is about supporting our organization and our colleagues — friends really — that give of their time to put this show on. It’s about the connections we make in life, especially friendships, that matter, not the location of meetings! It truly was a wonderful experience.”
I couldn’t agree more!