Year in Review - Report from the Executive to the 2015 AGM

The 2014-2015 academic year was very busy for the FCDSA. During the June 2014 Annual General Meeting, the federation’s council decided to set certain priorities for the coming year. One of the main ones was to be able to connect dentistry students from all over Canada under the FCDSA. A lot of work has been done by the executive over the past year in order to achieve this goal:

  • The FCDSA council updated the PowerPoint presentation for use during school events, introducing the federation, its vision, mission, and governance structure.
  • Each member association was encouraged to host a welcome event for all incoming students in the beginning of the academic year, and used the aforementioned presentation to introduce them to the federation.
  • Monthly activity reports were adopted and sent to the council members, keeping them updated with the latest developments.
  • The FCDSA received a notable mention during the International Dental Student Conference held in Montreal in January 2015, during which FCDSA’s Khashayar Gharavi (Toronto ’17) was asked to speak to the attendees about the federation.
  • The work on the English content for FCDSA website has been completed and the executive will launch the site during the 2015 AGM.
  • The FCDSA executive kept the private council Facebook page updated on a regular basis to include the newest council members and has used it as a means of communication for sending short messages among the council.
  • The FCDSA secretariat kept the public FCDSA Facebook page regularly updated with dentistry news from across the country.

FCDSA Representation at Other Meetings and Events

The FCDSA continued to gain exposure nationally and internationally through the participation by members of the executive at a number of meetings and events.

  • NDEB Annual Meeting (25 October 2014)
  • CDSPI Advisory Panel (7 November 2014)
  • ASDA Annual Session (18 February 2015)
  • CDA Annual General Meeting (24-25 April 2015)

Individual reports on these meetings and events are provided in the 2015 AGM resources.

It is also worthy of mention that the FCDSA was contacted on two separate occasions by the International Association of Dental Students. Information was requested of this association regarding its mission, vision and mandate, and the executive decided to table the discussion on whether or not to collaborate with the IADS until more inquiries can be made and the FCDSA becomes a more mature entity.

FCDSA Committees and Working Groups

The FCDSA committees and working groups have been working to accomplish short-term goals and make progress on long-term goals and organization development.

Finance Committee: The FC has been working to strategize a sustainable financial model for the FCDSA. We attempted to obtain an additional sponsor. While we do not yet have another large sponsor, we have received support from CDSPI ($25,000) for the AGM, and from the NDEB (4000$) to have two representatives attend their AGM. CDA also continues to provide sponsorship in kind by hosting the FCDSA Secretariat. The Finance Committee is developing a sponsorship (marketing) package to be presented to potential sponsors during future meetings.

Internal Communications Committee: The ICC updated the PowerPoint presentation for use by member associations to introduce FCDSA to first year students. The ICC mandate also includes developing the FCDSA official logo. Several options will be presented to the council during the Annual General Meeting.

External Communications Committee: The ECC oversees the FCDSA website. Most of this work was overseen by the Website Development Team. As directed by Council in 2014, FCDSA has adopted as its official email address.  Emails sent to this address will be received by the FCDSA Secretariat and directed to the intended recipient(s). Other email addresses will be created as the need arises.

DSC Feasibility Working Group: The working group has met with previous organizers of the International Dental Student Conference. The working group will present its recommendations during the meeting.

Submitted to the FCDSA Council, June 2015
Toufic Boulos (Montréal '15), FCDSA President

Report on the NDEB Annual General Meeting, October 2014

Khashayar Gharavi (Toronto ’17) and I, Nazanin Hojjati (McGill ’15), attended the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) Annual General Meeting in Ottawa in October 2015. We were enthusiastically welcomed by the members of the NDEB and we had a chance to thank them for their continued support in a short speech made by Khashayar.

The agenda was discussed and we had the chance to be involved in some of the discussions. Throughout the meeting, it was made clear that the NDEB is a non-profit organization and that the fees it charges dental students for its examinations cover the high cost of generating and reviewing questions. Some other topics discussed included statistics of examination results, locations outside of Canada where the NDEB is offered (including Sydney, Australia and some cities in the USA), exam security and its violation, etc.

This year, Khashayar and I had the chance to try a new method of examination that the NDEB is considering implementing in the next few years: NDEB examination on an iPad. We were each given an iPad and allowed to play around with it and provide feedback as dental students. They showed great concern for our opinion of this new method and made us feel involved in the process.

It was agreed that it is important for FCDSA as a student organization to be involved with the NDEB in order to ensure that students are aware of the changes taking place and ensure that our voices and concerns are heard by the members of the NDEB.

I would like to thank the NDEB for their continued support of the FCDSA by allowing us to be involved and providing the costs of transportation and accommodation to their annual meeting.

Submitted to the FCDSA Council, June 2015
Nazanin Hojjati (McGill ’15), Regional Councillor – Eastern Canada

Report on the 2015 American Student Dental Association (ASDA) Annual Session

The ASDA Annual Session was held February 18-21, 2015 at the Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston, MA.

 ASDA’s Strategic Goals

ASDA stated 4 strategic goals for itself: 1. Increase membership 2. Become a one stop shop for students graduating and transitioning to residency, specialty or practice. 3. Encourage states and government institutions to increase budget and allocate more resources to dental related causes and events that involve dental students 4. Collaborate with ADA and show a stronger presence during their lobby day in Washington.

I had discussion with ADSA executives and it was agreed to maintain our communications and expand our collaboration with ASDA by inviting each other to our annual events such as FCDSA’s AGM, ASDA’s Annual session and National Leadership Conference (NLC). 

Proposals (interview classes and online surveys)

I suggested that ASDA and FCDSA can collaborate together to offer employment opportunities to dental students (by offering interview classes to pre-dental students) and formulate online surveys for dental students regarding their academic and non-academic life.

Offering interview classes online to pre-dental students will not just be a great source of revenue but it will also be a great way to reach out to all those pre-dental students who will potentially be future dental students.

Lastly, formulating online surveys and offering them as part of our website will ensure that voices of dental students are heard and documented. The aim of these surveys would be give ASDA and FCDSA a better understanding of dental student feel and want about hot topics such as organized dentistry, student debt, licensure and board examinations and etc.

Note that these two proposals are just ideas that should be discussed more to assess their feasibility and practicality. 

Dental Student Conference

Another aspect of ASDA annual session, was the outstanding seminars offered to members about leadership, technologies, business of dentistry and many more. It is recommended to continue our work with the Dental Student Conference Working Group and try to incorporate such seminars when it comes to planning the types and nature of events.

Currently, IDSC is the only Canadian dental student gathering that offers related events. Combination of IDSC and ASDA annual session would be a great example of what a future Dental Student Conference could look like. It is hoped that our American counterparts and IDSC organizers are open to hold dialogues and exchanges ideas with our Dental Student Conference Working Group in order to lay the foundation and building blocks to offer an enriched and upgraded Canadian Dental Student Conference.

Lobby Day

Along with ADA, ASDA is actively involved in various lobbying activities to ensure the voice of dental students are heard and some sort of resolutions to address students’ needs and demands are made. It is recommended that FCDSA work with ASDA and learn about challenges faced by American dental students in order to help us recognized our own current and future challenges. Topics such as corporate dentistry, oversaturation in urban areas, oversupply of dentists and student debt are such few examples that need to be addressed and discussed both among ourselves and with policy makers. The aim of these discussions should be to come up with constructive conclusions and ensure that Canadian dental students have better understanding of the challenges and how to resolve or cope with them.

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to members of ASDA for inviting FCDSA to take part in ASDA Annual Session 2015 and for providing complimentary registration. We hope, this would be just the beginning our relationship based on mutual interests and goals.

Submitted to the FCDSA Council, June 2015
Khashayar Gharavi (Toronto '17), FCDSA Interim Vice President

Report on the CDSPI Advisory Panel

Letter received January 22, 2015 from Susan M. Armstrong, President & CEO, CDSPI

Mr. Khashayar Gharavi

Dear Mr. Gharavi,

On behalf of Lyle Best, the Board of Directors and the Executive team at CDSPI, I wanted to thank you for a very engaging discussion at our inaugural Advisory Panel meeting.  As a follow up to that meeting, I want to share with you how we plan to use what we learned that day to develop strategic initiatives in 2015.

Right from the outset of the meeting, your insights were of great value.  When each of you was asked how you would describe CDSPI, we received such a range of descriptions that it reinforced the message that we need to do an even better job at communicating to the dental community that CDSPI is now much more than a provider of insurance solutions.

Since the inaugural meeting, we have had the opportunity to review the more than 40 issues and challenges you indentified as facing the dental profession. The discussion around those topics reinforced our understanding of issues facing dentists at various stages of their careers; however, your insights also helped us to consider solutions to challenges that we may not have focused on as intently in the past. 

While all the issues you identified were important to the dental profession, there were seven in particular that you voted as being most relevant to CDSPI.  Based on that feedback, I am pleased to provide an update on our consideration of those issues:

Estate Planning & Succession Planning

Given the current demographic of dental professionals and our existing client profile, we believe that offering a CDSPI Estate Planning service fills a real need in the market, while filling an important gap in our service offering. As a result, we are pleased to report that we have identified Estate Planning as a key strategic initiative for 2015.

Practice Transition

Dentists looking to transition into the next stage of their careers face many issues and have numerous questions that go beyond their financial well-being. In 2014, we recognized this and launched our Navigating Change seminar series by bringing together lawyers, accountants and other experts specializing in the dental profession, to provide advice and answer questions related to practice transition. Those seminars were extremely well received, so we plan to continue them in 2015, and to expand the number of cities in which we will host the seminars.

The Advisory Panel also offered a suggestion that we consider whether the content of our seminars should be expanded. For example, it was suggested that new dentists be provided with information that not only addresses their current needs, but also gives them a “heads up” on what they need to consider as they look forward in their careers.  We are giving that further consideration.

Women in Dentistry

This topic resulted in an in-depth discussion about whether women in the profession face unique challenges relative to their male counterparts. The input we received and the limited research we have conducted does suggest that there can be valid and unique issues facing women in the profession. However, we need to better understand the scope of those issues.  We currently support “women in dentistry” initiatives offered by provincial associations and will continue to do so as these initiatives broaden.  However, we need to determine what specific role CDSPI can fulfill in offering value added programs, services or solutions before making a decision on how to proceed.  

Increasing Litigation in Society and the Increasing Legal Burden

CDSPI does not currently provide dentists with legal services or referrals to legal counsel that they may require in managing their business.   While the offering of legal services presents an interesting opportunity for us to introduce solutions that would fill a need, at this point, we have determined that the resources and expertise required to address these opportunities effectively, would take away from other initiatives we have identified as having a higher priority.

CDSPI offers a Legal Expense Insurance program. Coverage for legal expenses under this program is limited and does not address most business-related services.  For 2015, we have identified this product in particular as one to re-examine, to ensure it is meeting the needs of the dental community. 

Financial Knowledge Gap

This issue was discussed in the context of students and new dentists. To that end, we are continuing to examine our on-campus student presentations and new dentist forums to ensure we are providing education and information that is comprehensive in its scope.

The Business of Dentistry

Since our meeting, we have been involved in a number of discussions with the provincial associations about the critical need for practice management support for dentists.  Practice management could cover a broad range of topics including the economics of running a financially viable business, managing staff, managing risks in the practice, negotiating agreements, working with accountants and lawyers, ensuring your own financial health, etc.  CDSPI is currently involved in supporting mentorship activities across the country and has hosted a number of forums bringing experts together to speak on a number of these topics.  We will continue to participate in discussions with the associations to determine how CDSPI can further support initiatives in the area of practice management.

Electronic Health Records

At this point, we do not see an opportunity for CDSPI to support dentists in the area of electronic health records because we believe there are other organizations with the expertise to provide that service. However, we have captured this idea and can revisit it in a discussion at a future meeting.

Our hope when we launched the Advisory Panel was that CDSPI and the members of the panel would achieve mutually beneficial experiences. From our perspective, we learned about new issues facing the dental community, reinforced our understanding about issues we were already aware of, and deepened our knowledge-base on other important issues based on the conversations that occurred that day.

We trust that this exercise, and your future participation in this important initiative, is of equal value to you personally and professionally. Your time, advice and opinions are greatly valued.

I look forward to engaging with you soon to plan the future activities of the Panel.

Yours truly,

Susan M. Armstrong