Dental Student Conference Feasibility Working Group (DSCFWG) Report to 2016 AGM
Terms of Reference
Objectives and composition revised by FCDSA Council June 20, 2015
To provide advice to the Council of the Federation of Canadian Dentistry Student Associations (FCDSA) on possible future FCDSA involvement in the International Dental Student Conference (IDSC) as well as to explore other conference models.
- Contact previous IDSC organizers to obtain input and determine need for/reaction to possible FCDSA involvement in future IDSC.
- Consider the feasibility, implications and logistics related to FCDSA involvement in the IDSC beginning in 2017 or later.
- Explore other conference models for a national dental student conference.
- Submit its final report and recommendations for consideration by the Council at the 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The Dental Student Conference Working Group will consist of a Chairperson plus three (3) members of the Council.
The Working Group will hold electronic meetings and/or conference calls as needed in consultation with the Chair and staff.
The Working Group will submit its final report to the FCDSA Council at the 2016 AGM.
Staff support is available through the FCDSA Secretariat.
Membership: Antoine Paradis-Surprenant (Montréal '17) – Chair, Sunny Virdi (Manitoba '16), Bryan Wong (Manitoba '16), Elisabeth Rajotte (Laval '17), Monique Bouchard (Secretariat) – staff support
At the 2015 Annual General Meeting, it was decided our working group’s mission would be to finalize the work that had been started in the past two years. This included getting once more in contact with past IDSC organizers to gather additional information about the event and its specifics. The idea was to use this information and propose an enhanced conference model and later decide what sort of implication the FCDSA would have in it.
After the AGM, it was decided in the group that our work would seem more meaningful if our attempt at imagining an ideal conference model was complemented by trying to convince a particular University of actually organizing one in a near future; this way, we would put our efforts towards a real upcoming event. The group agreed that University of Toronto would be an ideal location for a national dental student conference in 2017. The response was at first uncertain, then positive for a little while, and finally it was decided it would be better to wait on the final submission of our report at the 2016 AGM to adopt any measure.
We then got back on our first objectives: gathering additional information with past IDSC organizers, providing a specific model of possible implication of the FCDSA in a dental student conference, a guide of selection for dental student conference locations and possible enhancement propositions. The idea of exploring other conference models was let aside, as we thought enhancing the actual formula was more relevant.
A meeting was held with two organizers of the IDSC Montréal 2015. As we already had much information about the specifics of the last edition in our last report, what we collected was more in the form of recommendations for a future edition. What follows in the “Results” section is first the “Overview of the event”, taken from the last report and updated. Secondly, we put the recommendations obtained this year from the last organizers in the “Recommendations and possible enhancements” section. This way, we can see the past experience of the event and its possible improvements in a more complete perspective.
1. Overview of the last IDSC (updated from the DSCFWG’s 2015 report)
Note: Please see the Recommendations section below for a possible revised program.
a. Approximately 500 students were in attendance.
b. There were students from nine of the ten schools.
a. Total budget for the event was approximately $350,000.
i. The hotel constituted about $250,000 of the budget.
ii. Approximately 10 000$ went in organizing the fashion show
iii. Between 5000$ and 10 000$ went in organizing the Dent Games
iv. Around 5000$ went in distributing promotional material, T-shirts and gifts.
b. Two accommodation packages were offered to students at the time of registration. The three night package cost around $350 while the two night package was less expensive.
a. The hotel needs to have enough rooms for the accommodation of over 500 people. Preferably, all guests should be on the same floor or on two consecutive floors of the hotel and it is ideal if the conference rooms and the ballrooms are on that same floor.
b. A photographer and cameraman were hired for the entire event.
c. City buses (STM) were rented to transport students between the sports arena and the hotel on the Saturday. This cost them around $3,000-$4,000.
d. 45 volunteers, all students from Université de Montréal, participated in the event.
a. Most sponsors were approached at the Journée Dentaire du Québec and were contacted by email or telephone. A marketing kit with different options was presented to the sponsors.
b. Around 30 sponsors were recruited and a total of $70,000 was raised from their contributions.
c. Following up with sponsors and the reception of their contribution takes months, even after the event has finished.
Note from research with IDSC organizers: After speaking to sponsors, the IDSC organizers were informed that if they wanted continued sponsorship, the conference should be organized every three years.
a. The event was held at the beginning of January because it is a time when students have less schoolwork and the prices of hotels are lower (it is after the holiday season).
b. Venues for the hotel were contacted about 9 months prior to the date of the event.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND POSSIBLE ENHANCEMENTS (as collected by the DSCFWG in 2016)
1. Possible Revised Program
a. The planning of the event has to start around a year before its realization
b. The date of the event has to be fixed at day one of the organizing process. Sponsors, hotels and all entities participating need to know a precise date to engage in providing anything. Once the date is set with the hotel, the organizing team is committed to hold the event; there is no turning back.
c. Fiscal year: The event’s organization relies majorly on sponsors, for which the fiscal year starts January 1st. The sooner they are approached during their fiscal year, the more likely it is they can contribute, as their budget for the year is still flexible.
d. The ideal time to host such an event is at the return of the Christmas break. Since the semester is just beginning, students from every school are likely available. For hotels, it is a point of the year where the demand is generally low, which is positive for organizers in terms of availability and price.
e. The account managing the money of the organizing committee has to be open as soon as possible, as certain delays are sometimes imposed regarding transactions. For example, an account has to be open for six months before it can move considerable amounts via paypal.
f. The promotion of the event has to start around a year in advance
g. If the event is held in January, the period of subscription should stop in the previous November at the latest. This allows the organizers to know the exact amount of people attending, with enough time to inform the hotel and sponsors about it, and manage everything regarding transportation.
a. Ideally, there should be a main directive committee composed of a limited number of people (3-6 at most). This group can then form sub-committees to be in charge of certain aspects of the event (for example, if there is a fashion show as in the last edition, there could be a sub-committee dedicated to it).
b. As many volunteers as possible should be willing to participate in the various events. There was around 45 of them last year. Such roles can be offered to them:
i. Staff at the DentGames (Referees, DJ, animators, security…)
ii. Staff and participants at the Fashion show
iii. Any sort of responsibility that would ease the holding of a particular event
c. The main committee should use the advice of a lawyer regarding every contracts and official engagements towards sponsors and the hotel.
d. A cameraman and photographer should be hired. Images and footage from the weekend are usually shown at the closing banquet, and can also be used in a future promotional video.
e. Producing and widely distributing an uplifting and appealing promotional video is of utter importance; it will circulate through platforms of social networks, where most students will see it for the first time and decide whether or not they show interest in the event. The same goes for potential sponsors.
4. Budget considerations:
a. Most of the money will come from the accommodation packages sold to the students attending the event.
b. Discounts can be obtained if the organizing school uses some of its own resources. For example, the sports events should be held at the school’s sports center.
c. Accommodation packages should be mandatory to participate in the event. There should not be an option to attend the seminars without renting a room at the hotel. Allowing this separation would complicate the planning greatly and jeopardize the financial aspect. However, there should be packages for different lengths of stays.
d. A portion of the budget should be reserved for the rental of audio-visual material, as it can be surprisingly expensive (a screen used in a presentation room can go up to 15 000$). This type of material is necessary for seminars as well as social events (lights, music, decoration, screens etc.)
e. The budget needs a safety fund, in case of unplanned additional expenses
a. Various types of sub-events can be held.
b. Night time: Traditionally, there is a themed party on the first night, an exterior event on the second night (fashion show for the two last editions) and a formal on the third night.
c. The seminars need to present relevant scientific presentations. They are basically what gives legitimacy to the event. It can have a lot of influence on a dean’s approval of the event.
d. The idea of incorporating seminars regarding business and administration in a dental practice could be an interesting complement.
e. If the committee was able to synchronize the dental student conference with certain of the participating schools’ scientific days, it would help in having more budget and more diverse speakers for the seminars.
f. In a similar way of thinking, it was suggested the event could be synchronized with the annual meeting of Canadian universities’ deans. This would help in allowing more school to participate. Deans could then be included in seminars and present speeches at a given time.
g. « Hands-on » formations are usually offered during the scientific day. An interesting idea would be to have those formations given by representatives of dental companies sponsoring the event. Both parties benefit from it, as the organizing committee doesn’t have to hire anyone new, and saves on costs since a partnership is already established.
h. The committee should consider finding a way to allow dentists to receive points of continued education for attending the seminars. It would be beneficial for the dentists and for the event as a whole, since sponsors will show even more interest knowing that dental professionals will be attending in addition to dental students.
6. Special considerations:
a. Only a few hotels can host such big event. It is important to contact them early to evaluate the possibilities.
MODEL OF SCHOOL PARTICIPATION AND SELECTION
It was determined that a school ⁄ city hosting a dental student conference should ideally present the following characteristics:
1. Have a hotel that can accommodate around 1000 people
2. Have an effective transportations system (metros, buses etc.)
3. Be accessible to other Canadian faculties (via airports etc.)
4. Allowing a certain variety of activities to do on a free day
5. Have installations facilitating certain activities (ex. the school’s sports center, theatres for a fashion show in the city etc.)
It was suggested that cities like Toronto, Montreal (McGill), and Vancouver would be interesting new locations to explore in the next dental student conferences to come.
SPECIFIC MODEL OF IMPLICATION OF THE FCDSA
As said in the “Recommendations and possible enhancements” section, the organization of a dental student conference should rely on a main directive committee of 3-6 people. These can be anyone who belongs to a particular Canadian faculty of dentistry wishing to do the necessary efforts to host this type of event. As in all the past IDSC’s, this small group will be in charge of renting the main venue (hotel) in their city, producing the accommodation packages, collecting the money from them and meet with sponsors to finance the event. These are the basics of the organization of this event, and the group should be thoroughly committed to these tasks in order for the project to be solid.
Once this is set, the FCDSA will be able to officially endorse the project, and with its legitimacy as a national association, be able to contribute to the organization in various ways, such as:
- Making the contact easier between the main organizing committee and various associations like the CDA and the ACFD
- Members of the DSFWG will be available to advise the organizing team with the data collected from past IDSC’s. They will also contribute in promoting the event. They can be the official contact between certain sponsors and the organizing team. Throughout the organization process, they will keep reflecting on the possible improvements to the event and feed the organizing committee with ideas.
- Members of the FCDSA’s finance committee will manage the monetary involvement of the FCDSA in the event. They will have access to the planned budget of the main organizing committee. They can also be the contact between certain sponsors and the organizing team.
- Members of the FCDSA’s external communications committee will promote the event on the FCDSA’s website
- Any member of the FCDSA will promote the event in their respective school, to achieve a maximal attendance rate.
- The FCDSA’s president will have a look at coordinating said activities for the FCDSA’s committee involved.
It would now be time for this report to be submitted and that the FCDSA determines whether or not it is interested to participating actively in the making of an IDSC.
BE IT RESOLVED that this final report be submitted at the FCDSA 2016 Annual General Meeting, and that a vote be taken to confirm the FCDSA’s will to follow its recommendations.