Chicago Dental Society focuses on value for dental professionals, Midwinter Meeting 2013

August 10, 2012

A Q&A with Randall B. Grove, Executive Director of the Chicago Dental Society.

A Q&A with Randall B. Grove, Executive Director of the Chicago Dental Society.

Q: As far as professional associations go, the Chicago Dental Society plays an interesting dual role: local dental society creating value for dental professionals in the Chicagoland area and force behind a dental meeting that draws nationwide and even international attention. What is the secret to carrying out those two distinct charges well?

RG: Thank you for the compliment! We are very fortunate to have more than 4,000 local members view the benefits of membership-and certainly the Midwinter Meeting-as worth their time and financial investment. We keep our members engaged through our nine local branches so they can be in contact with colleagues in their neighrbohood. The camaraderie creates a strong organizational bond for our members. In turn, keeping our members engaged with CDS is an important factor in the success of our Midwinter Meeting.

Q: It can be difficult to make the case for association membership when people are looking for ways to cut back. How do you make it worth it for people who are on the fence about whether or not to commit?

RG: On the dollars and cents side, the value of CDS membership is unparalleled. Thanks to the success of the Midwinter Meeting, we have not had to raise dues in nearly 30 years. Member benefits include access to local educational events, like our quarterly regional meetings, and online educational opportunities. One of the distinct advantages we also hold is that we are the local representation for dentists. For members looking to stay informed about local issues affecting their practice, we are their best resource, through our publications like the CDS Review and our website. We are also a local networking hub for members and active advocates in members’ communities for issues like access to dental care.

Related: Watch videos from the Chicago Midwinter Meeting 2012

Q: Organizations such as CDS are often able to bring a unique, on-the-ground perspective to national issues. Take the access-to-care problem: How is CDS problem solving in the communities it represents?

RG: In the absence of leadership on the local, state or federal level on this critical issue, CDS has worked to strengthen access to dental care and the dental care safety net in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 10 years, CDS and our foundation have donated more than $1 million dollars to local programs and clinics that provide dental care. We have also supported our dental schools, with $2.5 million in grants over that same period. Our most visible commitment to the cause is founding the CDS Foundation, with the mission of building on these efforts by engaging corporate and individual donors in our philanthropy. The foundation is now moving forward with opening a volunteer-run clinic in DuPage County. On the CDS side, we have several committees, including our Government Affairs and Access to Care, that champion the importance of good oral health to elected officials and the public and build relationships with organizations interested in our cause.

Q: Let’s turn to the Midwinter Meeting. What can we look forward to this February?
RG: The 2013 Midwinter Meeting, with the theme “A Midwinter Night’s Dream,” is poised to be another outstanding event. We anticipate a full exhibit floor with live patient treatment cases demonstrated each day. Visitors will be able to receive CE for these courses or by simply visiting the exhibit floor. With118 speakers providing 221 scientific courses, including 35 hands-on participation courses, there will be something for every member of the dental team and office staff.

Q: How do you determine, year to year, what topics and speakers to prioritize?
RG: Our Director of Scientific Programs, Dr. Al Kleszynski, works with a volunteer committee to set our program each year. He reviews reports from other meetings and recommendations made by CDS volunteers visiting national and international dental meetings. This is done in an attempt to figure out what emerging topics, issues and treatment modalities will interest our attendees. We want to be on the cutting edge.

Q: With many people questioning the relevance of tradeshows in age where CE and networking are both easily accessible online, how does CDS remain relevant?
RG: There is no question that the landscape continues to change for tradeshows, but it creates opportunities for us. The dentist is the one who grew up in the world of cellphones, laptops and advanced telecommunication technology. CDS has a blog, email newsletter, Twitter and Facebook presence to meet that growing demand. We will be releasing a Midwinter Meeting mobile application prior to the 2013 meeting to further our exposure. In 2012 we brought back live patient case demonstrations on the exhibit floor, which we streamed to Facebook, created a Twitter wall, and pushed social media in general. We believe that these elements tied what has been the traditional trade show into the world of technology and we plan to continue advancing.

Q: How is CDS using technology to stay engaged with its membership year-round?
RG: We use email to alert members of important issues and to promote events. The CDS blog is a great tool for creating awareness and interaction. Twitter and Facebook utilization continues to rise and we are incorporating Google analytics into our staff planning and execution to create a better experience for members and non-members alike