Dental Student Conference Working Group (DSCWG) Report to the 2015 AGM
Membership: Nazanin Hojjati (McGill ’15) – Chair, François Bélanger (Montréal ’15), Simon-Olivier Brault (Laval ’16), Nada Tabbara (Western ’17)
At the 2014 Annual General Meeting, the name of this group was changed to the Dental Student Conference Feasibility Working Group (DSCFWG). The mandate was amended to include the exploration of other conference models (besides the existing International Dental Student Conference) and the reporting deadline was extended until the FCDSA 2015 AGM in order that the DSCFWG might gather additional information and formulate any recommendations for the Council’s consideration.
Since the AGM, as chair of the DSCFWG, I had the privilege of meeting with three of the five dental students from Université de Montréal who sat on the organizing committee of the 2015 IDSC. At this meeting, we discussed the many aspects and details involved in the organization of such a large conference for dental students from universities across Canada. The organizers were open to sharing resources and documents pertaining to their budget, marketing, sponsorships, etc.
Presented below is an overview of the gathered information regarding the 2015 IDSC in the hopes of establishing whether it will be feasible for the FCDSA to participate in the organization of such a conference in the coming years.
1. Overview of the activities (January 8th - January 11th 2015):
a. Thursday PM
- Welcome cocktail and party
- Student presentations
- Scientific poster presentations
- Academic presentations by professors and clinicians
- Award ceremony for posters
- Lunch provided
- Sponsor exhibits
- Academic presentations by professors and clinicians
- Participation prizes
- Fashion show and party
- Hands-on activities for 3rd and 4th year students
- Dent Games
- Gala dinner and party
- Approximately 500 students were in attendance this year.
- There were students from nine of the ten schools.
- Total budget for the event was approximately $350,000.
- The hotel constituted about $250,000 of the budget.
- 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.
- 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.
- A photographer and cameraman were hired for the entire event.
- 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.
- 45 volunteers, all students from Université de Montréal, participated in the event. The organizers recommended having a greater number of volunteers in the future.
- 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.
- Around 30 sponsors were recruited and a total of $70,000 was raised from their contributions.
- Following up with sponsors and the reception of their contribution takes months, even after the event has finished.
- After speaking to sponsors, the organizers were informed that if they wanted continued sponsorship for the IDSC, it should be organized every three years.
- 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).
- Venues for the hotel were contacted about 9 months prior to the date of the event.
7. Suggestions by the 2015 IDSC organizing committee
- Have the official event website and Facebook group updated and accessible before the start of the academic year in August-September.
- Promoting the event properly, such as having an attractive trailer, is of utmost importance.
- The organizing committee also recommended contacting American dental schools and having them participate in this conference in the future.
Summary and Reflection
After consideration of the data obtained from the most recent IDSC organizers and upon further reflection, suggestions and recommendations have been made addressing the points below, which were brought up during surveys conducted by the 2013-2014 IDSC Feasibility Working Groups (25 responses):
a. 76% agree that the FCDSA should be involved in the organization of the IDSC.
i. This may be feasible in the next few years. However, in order for this to be done efficiently, a comprehensive list of the separate responsibilities of the FCDSA and the dental school organizing the IDSC needs to be made. Both parties should clearly understand their roles and responsibilities in this process and the working group must be fully committed to this task. Open and continuous communication between both parties is critical and must be maintained.
ii. In the event that the FCDSA becomes involved in the organization of the IDSC, certain changes to the current model of the event should be considered. These changes include the organizing body being responsible for the conferences and activities leaving the procuration of accommodations in the hands of the conference attendees (students) alone. This would alleviate a large burden on the organizing committee and would leave students with the freedom of choosing where to stay and who to stay with.
iii. In order to develop a robust scientific program, the FCDSA could approach other national organizations, including the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry (ACFD), the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), CDSPI, the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) and the American Student Dental Associations (ASDA) to develop session topics and find plenary and session speakers.
b. 72% agree that the IDSC should become an FCDSA event.
i. This would not be feasible for many years to come. The FCDSA is still not a completely mature organization and does not have the manpower or resources to organize such a large event on its own.
c. 76% agree that the IDSC should become a yearly event.
i. This is not encouraged given that this process will involve a significant commitment and work on behalf of the organizing committee and the FCDSA.
ii. The reception of a yearly event among dental students may also not be as favourable given the cost of travel and accommodation.
iii. Sponsors will also likely not wish to contribute towards this event on a yearly basis. As mentioned by the recent IDSC organizers, it appears that they prefer contributing towards this event every 3 years.
iv. What is recommended for the time being is that this event be held every 2 or 3 years.
d. 80% agree that the IDSC should be held at a different location every year
i. This is a feasible idea, however rules and regulations regarding methods of school selection and participation must be established as to have a fair and well accepted process.
ii. The attractiveness of the city as well as the capacity of the dental school to take on this task should also be further discussed and looked into.
Though we are heading in the right direction, an extension of the mandate will be required in order to acquire more information and form a more committed and cohesive working group. Meetings should be held on a regular basis and the feasibility of involvement with the IDSC should be further studied. Other models also need to be further explored. It is suggested that a specific model of involvement of the FCDSA be presented at the next AGM entailing details of the responsibilities of the FCDSA and the organizing dental school. A model of school participation and selection for the organization of the event should also be presented.
BE IT RESOLVED that the mandate of the Dental Student Conference Feasibility Working Group be extended until the FCDSA 2016 Annual General Meeting, at which time the Working Group will present its final report.