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Continuing Education Culture???

Rants from the Dental Operatory……A few weeks ago I was attending a continuing education course. Not the way I wanted to spend my day off when I could very well be binging the latest season of Project Runway….but, the state licensing board frowns upon capping our knowledge to our agonizing 4+ years of dental school….so, I comply.  Don’t get me wrong…..I love learning the latest and greatest dental techniques….. or feeling like I should be tarred and feathered if I don’t use a rubber dam every…single….time….or being told how I am completely failing at my restorative work because I am NOT using the newest 18th generation bonding agent (who just happens to be sponsoring the seminar)….yeah, that’s always a fun time……BUT, I am an introvert by nature…, sometimes attending these functions flying solo can be daunting….I feel alone….I feel out of my element…..I feel inadequate compared to those around me.  Let me elaborate…..

When the seminar begins, you always get an introduction from the host about the speaker’s credentials.  The lecturer sit humbly to the side while we get 5 to 10 minutes of accolades, awards and achievements that would warrant a bronze bust of them to be erected in the middle of ANY dental school’s lobby. This got me thinking and depressed…..not that I have anything meaningful to say….but my mind always wonders what would be said for MY introduction if I were to become a speaker.   “What a treat it is to have Dr. Anne with us today, after finishing her dental school requirements, she found herself just not motivated to get a job so she left the country and obtained another degree.  Having taken a sabbatical for 2 years and returning to the United States, she found she completely forgot how to do anything dental related so she took ANOTHER year of training in a residency and has had the privilege of taking the dental boards for a SECOND time because, with her procrastination… she had let her US license lapse.  With 13 years of post-graduate education under her belt and after reaching the maximum number of years for how long she could defer her student loans…..Dr. Anne finally became the overeducated and average dentist she knew she was destined to be.  She brings us two decades worth of her experiences as she works daily towards bringing smiles to all….one way or another…..all the while trying to keep HER anxiety to inward screams but outward laughter. ” I guess I could add a little more “professional pizzazz” to it…..but an introduction like that would have definitely caught my attention more than this guys did.


Now let’s talk about our fellow conference attendees.  A room full of dentists. Ugh… Am I the only one who just threw up in their mouth a little?  It was worse when I was younger…..walking into a room full of these older male dentists and feeling outnumbered.  Is it just me…or do most have a certain look or demeanor to them?  They walk into the banquet hall…..newspaper tucked under the arm sporting their very best Hawaiian shirt and khakis (because apparently THAT attire is the definition of “business casual” for male dentists), eyeglass readers on….but head tilted forward as they glance over the top scanning the room for any of their golf buddies.  Seeing no one they know…they go to a table and take up 3 chairs, one with their coat, one with their briefcase and one with their newspaper.  Then…they sit there for about 5 minutes….looking around….seeing people with coffee and danishes….staring….wondering how these delicacies appeared in front of these lucky individuals.  Usually, I would feel sorry for guys like that and point out that refreshments and a continental breakfast are in the back of the room.  Then he would reply, “Ohh…thanks sweetie.  Are we just supposed to get it ourselves?”  And, in my mind….because I am loathing at the sweetie comment….I want to mess with this guy and say “No, they’ve gracious assigned dental assistants for all of the male dentists today because they realize how clueless you all are when you don’t have a team of women around you to cater to your every need.”….but I don’t, I grew up Minnesota nice… I smile and say “Yes, help yourself…. in the back”.

Then….comes midday…the worst part….you know I what I am going to say.  Lunch.  I know, I know…..this should be the best part, right?  Someone else cooking, serving, and cleaning up for us….dream come true.  I’ll even happily chow down on my banquet dry chicken, medley of soggy veggies and undercooked (roasted on only one side) potatoes.  BUT….this is how my lunch time usually works out.  I find a table that no one is seated at (remember…my introversion) but I put out a nice inviting vibe hoping another mommy dentist will head my way.  I hear footsteps approach…..good it’s working….. I turn to smile at her…. then freeze.  It is NOT my new cool mommy dentist friend….it is about 6 old guy dentists who plop their plates down without even a simple hello.  They start talking and guffawing (side note: old guys guffaw….not sure the exact definition of that… but to me it means laughing with dry banquet chicken spitting out of your mouth)…..they go on and on about how successful they are… their HUGE portfolios … they are financing their wives dream to open a goat yoga studio…..adding yet another new addition to their shore home….. or taking a weekend getaway to New York City to find a special imported leather ottoman for their den.  Going to NYC on the weekend for a freaking ottoman ladies!!!!  I can barely make it to Target on the weekends to get the 10 dollar box of hairdye to cover these grey hairs in between all the shuffling of  kids to band, soccer, track, plays, etc…. So, I sit there eating awkwardly, looking like the silent member of a Beach Boys cover band because I am the only one NOT wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Finally……one of them would acknowledge me….and ask me if the doctor I work for is here.  I would silent cringe but smile and say. “I AM the doctor and if you’ll excuse me….I really have to make a call.  My team member has been texting me all morning needing my expertise . I am in the middle of some important negotiations between two of my associates regarding some assets that may need to be reallocated.  So….enjoy  and have a good day boys.”  Then, I would stand…hold my head high …..and walk out like the mom boss I am…. as I feel them all stare at me with awe.  When I do step out….I DO make that call….and begin to clearly explain to my associates (my kids)….how they need to SHARE the one remaining cupcake (assets) and if they don’t…their father (my team member) will eat the whole thing in front of them!  I would say….reallocate that cupcake for me….but I’m the mom boss…..I’ll get and pay for my own damn cupcakes and eat two on the way home.

So……Maybe my next continuing education course won’t be dreadful….maybe there are more of YOU out there like ME!!!!   We should have a signal or code word……so we can find each other and band together.  But please ladies…….if we band together….no Hawaiian apparel….we wouldn’t want those old Beach Boys guys to get jealous….because nobody can rock a floral print like us.