I always have such mixed feelings when I return from the annual session.  On one hand, I love the opportunity to reconnect with my friends and colleagues from all across the country and I look forward to those interactions all year.  On the other hand, the meeting is evolving at a frustratingly slow pace and it needs an injection of variety and fresh topics.

Although it is a very long flight, Washington DC proved to be a great venue.  As someone who resides in the western part of the United States, it is exciting to look out the windows of my hotel room and see the Washington Monument and the Capitol.  I made sure to carve out a little time to walk around the National Mall and drop in to a couple Smithsonian museums.  In addition, there were some really good restaurants within walking distance of the convention center, which made this particular trip a bit more gluttonous than originally intended.

Visiting with friends, teachers and online acquaintances makes for a wonderful weekend.  Although we are much more connected now than in days past, speaking to people in person always trumps the digital alternatives.  Michigan always does a great job with the alumni reception and I look forward to catching up with my co-residents and teachers, and to speak with the current residents who appear to be younger and younger each year.  It’s an honor to speak with the members of the Women in Orthodontics Study Group in person.  It means so much to me when someone mentions that they have been helped, encouraged or inspired by my passion project.  I will tell you that not everyone was super nice and friendly, and I even heard there were some men talking a little trash about the Women in Orthodontics projects.  But, I learned a long time ago that you can’t please everyone and as I’m getting older, I care less and less what others think.

As I stated above, I didn’t get a tremendous amount of new information from the lectures this year.  A large percentage of the lectures were the same people with the same lectures and a different title (sometimes the title was different).  I will admit that these lectures were well attended, and maybe I’m in the minority with my opinion (probably).  But, it is increasingly frustrating to attend the annual session and feel like I’m playing the lead in “Groundhog’s Day”.  I love to learn new information and I love to have my preconceived notions on things be challenged, and unfortunately not a lot of that happened this weekend.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were some newer speakers starting to show up on the program, and they put on excellent presentations.  But, it wasn’t enough for me to be overly enthusiastic about the program as a whole.

So, will I attend the annual session next year?  Probably yes.  Los Angeles is a short drive for me and I like to catch up with my friends.  Change is slow in such a large organization with an archaic leadership structure – I get that.  But, I am still hopeful that someday my voice will be heard.  Until then, I will work on making our own meeting something different, something valuable and something educational with 12 CE credits (and of course fun too).  See you in LA – but I’ll see you in Phoenix first!

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