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WSDA Academy: An Enduring Benefit of Membership

Learn more about the WSDA Academy, WSDA's free CE program for young members.
In 2014, the WSDA Task Force on Membership recommended establishing a program of free education for WSDA members, specifically, members up to 10 years out of dental school. Called the WSDA Academy, its mission was to develop scholars and create a community of young dentists committed to the Academy’s tenet, “aliqua, virtus, amicitia” (education, excellence, friendship).

Topics and speakers for the Academy are recommended by the New Dentist Think Tank, and held mostly at the WSDA office or in larger facilities in King County. In the four years since its inception, the Academy has continued to grow session sizes, from 23 attendees in the beginning to 33 currently, with occasional 50-attendee sessions. Typically, sessions are three hours in length and held in the evening to accommodate work schedules. Dinner is provided at no cost. 

Dr. Luke Daining, a frequent attendee of Academy offerings, says, “The sessions are always excellent. You can tell that the WSDA will only book speakers with valuable information to share, and they always ask for feedback in order to improve future courses. Another intrinsic value of the courses is definitely the social component. I generally see a handful of familiar faces and many new faces at the courses. The WSDA does a good job of integrating the social and educational portions of the courses. I also really appreciate the meals that are served at the courses, as I am typically coming straight from work.”

As you might expect, sessions fill up quickly, most within 24 hours. “Our most successful courses have been our clinical offerings,” says Kainoa Trotter, Assistant Executive Director of the WSDA, “but majority of the sessions have sold out. Most of the speakers are WSDA members, which serves as an opportunity to scout upcoming speakers for PNDC. Most of the attendees are graduates from other schools besides UW, so it’s a great introduction to the WSDA for young dentists new to Washington, and allows them to begin to build their professional network in the state.” 

Trotter says that repeat attendees renew their membership in the WSDA at significantly higher rates than those who have attended just one session or none at all, and the number of repeat academy attendees has grown each year. Dr. NamThien Vu told us, “I’ve been to about nine to 12 Academy courses in the last three years. What I like about the Academy courses is that they are affordable CE, and the speakers are well-respected clinicians around the area who are knowledgeable in research and clinical dentistry.” Vu gives the Academy sessions high scores and says he plans to attend them for as long as he is qualified. 

Daining agrees, saying, “I definitely plan on attending more sessions in the future. I would, and do, tell colleagues that the WSDA Academy courses are evidence that the WSDA cares about all of their members, especially their newer members. The courses allow me to learn more about the WSDA, and learn more about all that they do for their member dentists. The relationships formed during these courses are invaluable in making me feel connected to the WSDA, as well as the local dental community.”

Session information is distributed via email to qualified attendees. Upcoming offerings include volunteerism, prosthodontics, and oral surgery.

Learn more about the WSDA Academy.