Longtime Chicago Dental Society volunteer Salvatore Storniolo held court over lunch. At a table filled with dental students, conversation included Game of Thrones, the Oscar nominees for Best Picture and the wisdom he’s gained through 26 years in dentistry.
“I think of myself in your shoes 27 years ago, and I can say it was scary. There were a lot of mixed emotions,” he told the students with whom he shared a lunch table. “But what you’ve got to realize is that it’s all there for the taking. You just need to figure out what kind of dentist you want to be. And you must get involved; networking is the key.”
Dr. Storniolo was one of many CDS volunteers who made time Thursday, Feb. 20, to attend the Mentor Luncheon. Held annually at the Midwinter Meeting , the event paired practicing dentists with dental students for camaraderie.
They agreed that their time together was a valuable part of their Midwinter Meeting experience.
“As dental students we spend so much time in class and lab, but there is no instruction on how to be a dentist in the real world,” said second year dental student Jeri McCombs, who lunched with dentist Victoria Ursitti. “That’s where organized dentistry comes in for students. It’s really neat to meet people at events like this and talk about tangible career goals.”
Dr. Ursitti agreed that networking events like the Mentorship Luncheon would have enhanced her experience as young dentist; she volunteers today so that others benefit from her experience.
“It would have been nice to have had someone to ask ‘what do you use for scheduling software?’ or ‘what kind of clinical software do you like?’ Running a business is not just clinical,” Dr. Ursitti said. “The personal contacts here are fantastic, but as a young dentist I think you need someone to put their arm out and invite you to do something, and I think I have a lot of offer in that way.”
Second year dental student Shauvik Ponnusamy found that kind of camaraderie in his relationship with CDS member Dean Nicholas. Mr. Ponnusamy shadowed Dr. Nicholas in the office to supplement his clinical instruction; he most enjoyed the way Dr. Nicholas interacts with patients.
“He makes everyone laugh,” Mr. Ponnusamy said. “It was great to see how he made connections with patients, which is not something they teach in dental school. And when we started endo at school, it was nice to hear him say ‘it’s going to be okay, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,’ and hear his reassurance and feel that camaraderie.”
Mr. Ponnusamy encouraged his peers to seek out the mentorship program.
“Take initiative. Small steps make a big difference in learning about how to manage outside of class when it comes to things like finances and debt and continuing education.”
His classmate Punita Shukla agreed.
“You can’t do one without the other: go to school and talk to a mentor. This is the base for your future,” she said.
Find more photos from this and other 2014 Midwinter Meeting events on Flickr.
Conversation came easily at the 270 Restaurant Friday evening,
when dentists who have been in practice for 10 years or less gathered for
cocktails and camaraderie at the New Dentist Reception.
"It's a relaxing thing to do after a day of learning, to
come out and meet other dentists," said Sandra Lu, a Midwinter Meeting
attendee who earned her dental degree from the Southern Illinois University
(SIU) School of Dental Medicine.
Beside her, fellow SIU grad Jessica Rhodes added that she was interested
in networking there and furthering her career.
"This is effective networking," affirmed dentist James
Benz, who leads the GPR program at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
"It's becoming less common to graduate and immediately go into a practice
situation that you'll have for your whole career, so networking at this stage
of your career is essential."
Dr. Benz came to the New Dentist Reception looking to reconnect
with former students and hear how the GPR program trained them to meet the demands
of their careers. He would take their feedback back to the office to improve
the program for current residents.
Across the room, Marquette graduate Andrew Wiers was talking up
the benefits of organized dentistry. Dr. Wiers is a member of CDS's New Dentist
"Job opportunities, debt load, how to piece together jobs to
develop the career you want, are all topics that we talk about there, and
here," he said. He called the reception a success. "The room is full,
people are having a good time, and it's almost difficult to hear because there
are so many great conversations going on."
Among them was endodontist Milton Davenport, looking to meet more
local doctors. He earned a dental degree at Harvard University, and then
completed his residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Everyone is so busy and spread out, but everyone can be
here at the Midwinter Meeting, and then we party all weekend," Dr.
Find more photos from this and other 2014 Midwinter Meeting events on Flickr.
Nearly 200 new dentists gathered at the close of business Friday for laughter, conversation and cocktails – all in celebration of the 148th Midwinter Meeting. The New Dentist Reception allowed old friends to reconnect, and new friendships to take root.
“We’re growing the new dentists’ network,” said Jill McMahon, a Southern Illinois University grad who has been in practice for five years. “There’s a lot of people here that I don’t recognize. It will be a good night to meet new people.”
Kajal Patel, a 2012 graduate from New York, attended for the same reason. “It seemed like a great networking event, a way to meet people who are in the same place in their lives that I am.”
The New Dentist Reception had long been a Midwinter Meeting staple, until the host restaurant shut down in 2007. The Chicago Dental Society Membership Committee brought it out of hiatus and relocated it to the McCormick Place campus in time for the 2013 Midwinter Meeting. Aspen Dental; Central Data Storage; Netsertive, Inc.; and Southpoint Insurance Agency sponsored the event.
Dr. Patel especially appreciated the opportunity to network in person, and in friendly environment.
“There are lots of opportunities online, but it’s nice to do something more personal and actually interact live.”
Texas dentists Chung-Lei Kao and Molie Xu were eager to meet up with their classmates from Case Western Reserve University. Ms. Kao posted on her Facebook page that she purchased tickets when she registered for the Midwinter Meeting, and many of her classmates responded that they would meet her there.
“This is great place for a group to get together to meet and catch up,” she said.
Connie Hunt, of Indianapolis, and Danielle Smart, of Maryland, did just that at the New Dentist Reception. They got to be friends while during their residencies at Nashville’s Meharry Medical College.
“We’ve been at the conference all day. Why not stay and be social and have a few appetizers?” Dr. Hunt said.
Find photos from the New Dentist Reception on Flickr
With 32,000 dental professionals expected to convene at McCormick Place next month, running into an old classmate is an unexpected surprise.
Unless, of course, you know where to look. Just ask Chicago dentist Lynse Briney.
She’s one of many who will be attending the New Dentist Reception at the Midwinter Meeting. The Happy Hour event brings together dentists who have been in practice for no more than 10 years for cocktails, conversation and camaraderie among contemporaries.
“We all seem to be so busy these days and since you’re already at the Midwinter Meeting it's an easy way to meet up,” Dr. Briney explained. “It gives new dentists the chance to network with other dentists that are in the same shoes! We can catch up on the best practices that work in our offices, discuss how to juggle work-life balance, vent about the practice options before us and much, much more. Best of all it gives us the opportunity to catch up with classmates we may have not seen in a while.
“And it gives us the chance to meet new dentists and expand our networks of friends and colleagues.”
Keyur Shah consistently made time for these kinds of networking events as he began his career, and said it paid off.
“We’re all like-minded and have similar goals, so it’s nice to interact,” live and in person, he said. “I always get tidbits of good information from these events – you can ask anyone about anything and the conversations are relevant and current.” His mentors encouraged him to start attending these events while he was still in dental school, and he’s so thankful that they did.
“It’s very valuable to interact with your colleagues and promote organized dentistry.”
Dr. Briney added that they’re just plain fun.
“I love catching up with people, seeing new friends and old. It helps keep me in touch with reality and not get bogged down in the daily grind!”
To join Drs. Briney and Shah and others at the New Dentist Reception at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in 260 Restaurant at McCormick Place West, register for SE5 when you register for your Midwinter Meeting courses.
And if you’ve already registered, you can add the reception to your existing registration.
Whether you attend the Midwinter Meeting for the scientific program or the commercial exhibition (SHOPPING!) You can’t avoid the added benefit of professional networking on site.
“These are opportunities to develop relationships in terms of the business that we do,” Rose Ann Pastor, assistant dean of Career Management Services at Loyola University Chicago’s Graduate School of Business told the CDS Review in 2009. “In terms of ongoing relationships, it’s about getting into a circle of influence that you may need to be in down the road.”
Here are three networking opportunities to consider while you’re at McCormick Place West Feb 21-23:
- The New Dentist Reception returns to the Midwinter Meeting in 2013, bringing together dentists who have been in practice for no more than 10 years for cocktails, conversation and camaraderie among contemporaries. Register for SE5 when you register for your Midwinter Meeting courses, and plan to join your colleagues at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in 260 Restaurant at McCormick Place West.
- The Mentor Luncheon will bring together the CDS member dentists, dental students and pre-dental students who have registered to participate in CDS’s mentorship program. (This includes students from all three of Illinois’s dental schools.) This invitation-only luncheon Friday, Feb. 22, allows current and future dentists time together to explore their shared profession. “Use the Midwinter Meeting as an avenue to learn together. Go on the exhibit floor together,” encouraged Joanne Girardi, CDS’s director of Member Services.
- The CDS Foundation Donor Lounge, sponsored by Pesavento and Pesavento Ltd., is a quiet place to rest your feet and quench your thirst during long days. Located next to the CDS Foundation booth 322, the lounge is open to donors of greater than $250 during Exhibit Hall business hours. You never know who you might run into there.