Interview with CDS 2023 President-elect Dr David Lewis Jr.

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“CDS is committed to providing the highest level of continuing education”

Chicago Dental Society 2023 President-elect Dr David Lewis Jr believes that the 2024 Midwinter Meeting will deliver one of the most robust scientific programmes ever assembled. (Image: CDS)

Continuing education is an indispensable part of a dental professional’s career and shows great dedication and commitment to the profession. The Midwinter Meeting, which is a premier dental event organised by the Chicago Dental Society (CDS), is a one-stop shop for both networking and gaining cutting-edge scientific knowledge in the field. In 2024, the event will be held on 22–24 February and will provide attendees with more than 230 continuing education accredited courses and 40 interactive hands-on workshops. Dental Tribune International spoke with the 2023 president-elect of CDS, Dr David Lewis Jr, about other exciting opportunities the event will offer and discussed the importance of patient-centred care.

Dr Lewis, could you tell us a bit about your background in dentistry and what motivated you to enter the profession?
My father was a physician, and my mother a nurse, so I come from a family with a healthcare background. Being the oldest child, I could observe my father’s work schedule and the time it required away from the family. Dentistry appeared to offer more flexibility and control over one’s personal and family time while allowing me to remain in the healthcare field to serve the public. I graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry in 1981 and then spent one year in a general practice residency programme at Illinois Masonic Medical Center that focused on special patient care—working with patients with medical and mental handicaps. I also taught at the College of Dentistry early in my career. All of those experiences made me a better dentist and more aware of the uniqueness of each patient and how to provide the dental care they need and want in the most comfortable, trusting manner possible.

You now have over four decades of experience as a general dentist. What aspects of dentistry do you find most rewarding?
I find great satisfaction in rendering comprehensive care to individuals who have not experienced that kind of treatment, especially those who have feared the dentist or dental care. Most of what we do as healthcare providers and what patients accept from us is based on their trust in how much we care about them as individuals and our ability to provide that care.

Working with a great team of people every day who are on the same page as you are is a joy. They are your professional family away from home. That team expands beyond your primary team in the office to specialists you refer to, laboratories you work with, dental supply representatives, business support personnel, study clubs and dental organisations, such as CDS.

Through this network of individuals, I have established many lifetime friendships that may have never occurred outside of dentistry. Opportunities to give back through leadership and volunteerism in the profession and the community have added to my personal growth.

The Midwinter Meeting is one of the most exclusive events of CDS. What do you wish to achieve as president of CDS for 2024?
While the Midwinter Meeting is a signature event for CDS, the membership organisation is more than this annual event. Similarly to other professional and membership organisations, CDS is focused on growing and retaining membership and expanding revenue sources. It is working hard to roll out several initiatives in 2024 to provide more value to our members, foster networking opportunities for Chicago area dentists and further build the value of CDS membership and the Midwinter Meeting. We want to support and uplift the dental community while promoting the art and science of dentistry to the interests and needs of our members, the dental profession and the public we serve.

“While the Midwinter Meeting is a signature event for CDS, the membership organisation is more than this annual event.”

We want people to understand that mentorship, volunteerism, camaraderie, networking and leadership are all outstanding values of being a CDS member, in addition to the exceptional continuing education offered by CDS through the Midwinter Meeting and regional and branch meetings.

What can you tell us about next year’s meeting, and what will distinguish it from past events?
Although the Midwinter Meeting no longer has an official theme, while building the event’s continuing education programme, I was inspired by a quote by Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” As a respected leader in dental continuing education, CDS is committed to providing the highest level of continuing education at the three-day meeting to help attendees create their future in dentistry and dental care. We have more than 230 lectures and workshops as well as 143 speakers, 40 of whom are presenting for the first time. We are always seeking and discovering speakers who can share practical tips with attendees that they can then take back to their practice the very next day. We have strived to offer something for everyone on each day of the event so that every day offers a balanced course content.

Also, there is continued interest from exhibitors returning to dental meetings. There are more than 450 currently signed up for the 2024 Midwinter Meeting. Many exhibitors will be showcasing new products, and attendees will have the opportunity to try them out under one roof.

We have also planned exclusive networking events for dental students, early-career dentists and established dentists. On the Thursday afternoon, we have a special guest as our keynote speaker, the American television personality, actor and producer Geoffrey Baer from PBS. He is a well-known personality and will help attendees fall in love with our home town of Chicago.

Considering today’s developments, what is one piece of advice you would like to share with dental professionals or those considering entering the profession?
First, I would like to share a quote attributed to Teddy Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Regarding patient care, showing you care about that unique individual and gaining their trust first are essential before discussing treatment options with them. In dentistry, we still have that opportunity to take the time to get to know our patients.

To follow that, I’d add that dental professionals should strive to become great diagnosticians who can recognise dental issues even if they do not actively treat them. Knowing when to refer a patient to a specialist for care will best serve the patient’s needs.

Lastly, I would advise them to continue creating their future by expanding their level of clinical competence through continuing education, as this allows dental professionals to offer a level of treatment that benefits patients.

Editorial note:

More information about the event can be found on the event website.

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