Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Do You Define a Fellow?

There have been a lot of new faces here at The Daily Grind, and I think it is only appropriate to introduce myself. I am Colleen DeLacy. I hail from the eastern side of Michigan and the blue waters of Lake Huron. I was born in Port Huron and practice in rural Sandusky & Lexington (more on practicing in small towns in upcoming blogs). It is nice to meet you.

This year will mark several milestones for me; 2013 is 10 years post-grad, 10 years with the AGD, 10 years practicing with my now business partner, and my 10 year wedding anniversary. I guess you could say that 2003 was a busy year for me. Also, I am excited to report that I have met the requirements specified in the AGD Fellowship guidelines. I completed my application and sent it in for review. I am currently awaiting approval from the Dental Education Council and their official decision in March.

Let’s rewind. Ten years ago, as a DS4 student at the University of Detroit School of Dentistry, I was encouraged to become a member of the AGD. I honestly had not given it much thought at that time. My mind was burdened with graduation requirements, finding the perfect carious lesion for the class II prep/restore, and my August wedding. I signed the application, got some papers stating I was a member and well, that was that. Or so I thought.

I recalled my dentist and watching the letters on her signage change from “DDS” to “DDS, FAGD” and then to “DDS, MAGD.” I remember asking as a teen and undergrad student what those extra letters meant. I had always wanted to go to dental school. Even when I was young, the staff there was always very encouraging. They explained to me everything Doc. had to do to complete the requirements for those extra letters, as well as the significance of them. Frankly, though, it wasn’t until I actively began the process that I remotely understood.

Approximately one year after dental school, I finally took a minute to look at my AGD membership information. I was probably trying to find something else in the drawer when I stumbled upon the file. But it got me looking into Fellowship, or at least looking at the requirements. I printed off the application and requirements list and mentally made it a goal to become an AGD Fellow. For the first time in my life, I didn't have the rigors of school, and more studying wasn’t on my top 10 list of things do with my spare time. The CE requirements seemed very unattainable to me then and the thought of prepping for an exam of significant magnitude again seemed too overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong: I have always been a huge proponent of quality continuing education. Fortunately for me, the owner of the practice that I joined felt the same way. He encouraged me to go to everything I could, including state annual meetings and local component society meetings. He is also a member of the AGD and understands the need for continuing education and staying atop of the information available.

Near the end of 2006, I bought into the primary practice to become a full partner. Together we purchased a second office. Sadly, in the midst of this exciting business venture, my father passed away very unexpectedly (I had just turned 30). At that time, CE took a back seat to my business and family needs (as well as my own emotional healing).

I was reminded of completing the requirements for fellowship every year as I dutifully renewed my membership. I would see the printouts in the file drawer when I put away my annual paperwork. I was going to the minimum amount of CE (very uncharacteristic) and still wasn't in the mindset to prep for the exam. I never thought it would take five more years before I was ready to even entertain being serious about my involvement and preparation for the exam. I owe my closest friend for my renewed drive for fellowship (a friendship formed in dental school). She said she wanted to take the exam and knew that I wanted to take it as well, and suggested we prep for it together. Great move!

We set a date. We originally planned to travel to Philly to take the review course and sit for the exam. We ultimately elected to take the exam locally at a testing center and rely on our own studies for the preparation. We scheduled it and stuck with the annual session date. June 2012, it was!

I knew I didn’t have enough CE completed yet and I had some organizing to do. Somewhere in during the time when I was in survival mode, I had gotten lax with sending in all my CE certificates. I had a lot of paper to shuffle and sort. There were stacks of papers and folders with CE certificates stuck in a PowerPoint handout (again, quite uncharacteristic). My transcript was a mess and it was my responsibility to get it corrected. Fortunately, the team at the AGD was wonderful to work; I would email or fax my information over and it would appear on my transcript in a fairly timely manner. Tick, tick, tick. The remaining CE hours were coming down, but slowly. I realized I had a lot to do and had to get on the ball if I was going to meet my 2012 yearend deadline.

June’s exam date seemed to approach quickly. I knew that the state board was not going to be at my office to revoke my license if didn’t pass, but I was very nervous. Although, I suppose you don’t become an AGD dentist if you are okay with failure. When I clicked the final answer, pass or not, I was relieved that I put forth an honest effort and felt good that I had done it. I walked up to the checkout staff member to turn in my scrap paper and pencil. She handed me a piece of paper with a smile, “Good job. Have a nice day.”

OH MY! This is my score?! Right here? I didn’t realize I would have the results right then. I walked out and wondered if Lisa had passed. She peeked out and a slight grin appeared and then I beamed. Thank goodness gracious! I thought I was off my game, but I was so happy to have it done!

The final step was to finish needed CE hours. I was on the AGD website at this point all the time (still bookmarked) and discovered that there are some amazing resources available for online CE. I purchased the entire 2012 Philadelphia Annual Conference CE set (which, I might add, was well worth it). Sitting in my comfy clothes on my couch with my laptop and earbuds on a Sunday isn't a bad way to keep up on CE. Of course, the AGD journal has its Self-Instruction CE, as well. In 2012, I completed 167.25 hours of CE, which is over one month’s time for the typical person’s work schedule.

What will fellowship mean to me? I am proud of my profession and proud to be a part of the AGD. Becoming a fellow is exciting for me because I have a renewed excitement for my profession and organization and have become more active (blogging here, for one example). I enjoy the opportunity to network with other AGD docs throughout the nation. It is not about the extra letters anymore, it is that I am part of an elite group: only 7% of AGD dentists achieve Fellowship*. I am proud that I set the goal and I met it. The problem with meeting a goal is that you have to set a new one. MAGD? Well, maybe...

Now I am giving you a challenge: set a goal for your fellowship if you haven’t already! It is an honor and an accomplishment. If I may offer you some serious advice, here are some tips.

1. Don’t put off taking the exam. Do it! Find a study buddy to keep you on track for the test date.
2. Complete a self audit of your CE award transcript (for accuracy) and to see what you still need. Set a realistic goal to finish it.
3. Become involved with the AGD at either at the state or national level.
4. Attend at least one destination AGD conference per year.
5. Challenge another AGD member to complete these same tasks.

Looking forward to next time,
Colleen DeLacy, D.D.S. (pre-F.A.G.D.)

*percentage taken from AGD website in the 2012 media toolkit section


Jon said...

Welcome to blogging for the AGD
Jon Hardinger DDS MAGD
Communications Council

Lilya Horowitz DDS said...

This is definitely motivating me to sign up for the next review course :)


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