National Leadership Conference

National Leadership Conference

Written by Julia Cheung (’21)


I’m sure every person in the school has heard of the term ASDA Fever at one point or another, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what ASDA Fever is. ASDA Fever to me is when someone discovers that there’s much more to learning how to be a dentist than what we get at school. It is feeling a sense of camaraderie with hundreds of other students that know what we’re all going through. Last year I heard so much about NLC, a national leadership conference held every year in Chicago, and how it inspired so many of our leaders to play into the idea of ASDA Fever.

ASDA conferences tend to have a sense of mystery surrounding them, since what in the world could dental students learn about for an entire weekend that actually makes them excited and want to get more involved? That was my question after hearing so much about NLC last year, so I was so excited when I got the opportunity to attend. NLC is a national ASDA conference, which means that students from every single dental school in the entire nation come to this conference center. ASDA at its roots is an advocacy organization, but oftentimes at these conferences, we learn more about skills that can enrich both their dental school life and their life after graduation.

We had the choice to follow conference tracks or to bounce around presentations that we wanted to attend. Every hour had either a keynote speaker, or a presentation in Leadership Fundamentals, Advocacy, ASDA Chapter Management, Personal Development and Wellness, and Career Planning tract. I chose to bounce around and I learned skills like how to improve my CV and how to be a good public speaker. There was one presentation that I took the most away from, which was How to Not Fail Miserably at Private Practice, presented by Dr. Chris Salierno.

Dr. Salierno spoke about how dentistry is turning more towards a commodity-based profession; our patients are becoming consumers and our services are becoming commodities. He mentioned how counterintuitive it was for patients to be mad about us not being able to do a full mouth restoration in one month when they’ve spent years bringing their oral health to the state that it currently is at. He also spoke upon the fact that any trends regarding the general public’s relationship with dentistry can’t be written off as the consequences of the 2008 recession anymore. Now, it’s all about the relationship between patients and how much they value their oral health as well as the roles we can have as active business owners when establishing our own practices down the road.

I have always loved going to ASDA conferences because it serves multiple functions in my life outside of dental school. I learn strategies that successful dentists have in terms of running a private practice, get some insight on how the business side of dentistry works, and overall have the chance to develop my leadership skills. I also get the chance to meet hundreds of other ASDA students from different schools in situations like in a Chapter Exchange session where I spoke to a dozen other schools to learn how their chapters are running so we all can bring ideas back to our Penn chapter with ways to strengthen what we do here. NLC is such a unique experience because it’s a way to experience just how big ASDA is, how much ASDA can help us prepare for our careers, and how powerful the ASDA Fever is nationwide.