As a third year who had been seeing patients for less than six months, I believe NLC provided some great sessions that I wouldn’t have fully been able to appreciate without having some clinical experience under my belt. One example of this was the Effective Communication Strategies for Difficult Conversations session. Not only did this session provide invaluable tips on how to breach these topics with patients, but also provided insight into how to deal with conflict within your dental team. The latter is something I believe few students in my position have been, but it is something that can drastically change your work environment. One specific set of tips from Dr. Harms stuck out to me:
1. Be proactive, not reactive.
2. Address complaints quickly.
3. Empower front line employees.
4. Own the problem/own the solution.
5. Continuously improve the process.
6. Formulate an effective apology.
These instructions are key to minimizing the destructive effects of unresolved conflict in your office and I hope one day to follow them in order to provide a welcoming and efficient practice.
Another session, that I would not have appreciated without being as far along in my dental school career, was the 3D Printing in the Dental Profession session. Dr Ference spoke about different methods of 3D printing and more specifically spoke about the revolutionary process of 3D printing complete dentures. After making it through several lectures in our Final Restorative Treatment course about all the steps necessary to fabricate complete dentures, the efficiency and reduced cost provided by 3D printing dentures seems unreal. Patients hate the amount of time and number of appointments needed to get complete dentures and I may dare to say students might not be the biggest fans either. With reduced times and costs, the way we approach denture cases could be changed forever. This was an inspiring lecture as it made the current advancements in dentistry a reality to me.
Overall, I believe NLC was an amazing experience with many opportunities for students in all years of their training to get exposure and networking experience under their belt. While this is true, I feel as if there were definitely some amazing sessions that wouldn’t have their full impact on students who have not been through certain clinical classes and experiences.