This year’s ASDA annual leadership conference was an experience like never before. Rather than traveling the 985 miles from Boston to Chicago, I attended from my bedroom. The virtual leadership conference (VLC) was organized so that lectures were pre-recorded and played at set times. At the time the lecture would play, there was a chat moderated by the lecturer. We had the ability to ask the lecturer questions and get responses in real time as he/she was “lecturing”. Also, I heard from dental students across the country as they also typed their thoughts or suggestions into the chat. For example, I attended a session on study skills where the speaker talked about using a “memory palace” as a technique to help remember information. Although it’s an intriguing technique, I couldn’t figure out what kind of information to use it for until a dental student from California shared that he used a memory palace for nerves in head and neck anatomy. I appreciated getting to learn from experts and hear the ideas and perspectives of other dental students.
Overall, I found the clinical tips and information to be the most helpful part of VLC. I’m a third-year dental student who started seeing patients in clinic two months ago. I will be able to use much of the information that I learned at VLC to help my patients. For example, I attended a talk on sleep apnea for the general dentist and learned about the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, as well as treatment. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 26% of adults between 30 and 70 years of age have sleep apnea. I am bound to have patients with sleep apnea and learning more about the disease and management for it at VLC will help me be more informed and take better care of these patients. Similarly, I attended another talk on the most frequently prescribed medications for the treatment of systemic diseases, and the dental implications of these medicines. After listening to this lecture, I feel better prepared to treat my patients on these medications. I am grateful that I could attend ASDA VLC this year, network with experts and dental students across the US, and learn clinically relevant information that I can use to improve care for my patients.