Since graduating from dental school almost five years ago, I would like to think that I have been quite aggressive in the amount of continuing education (CE) I have taken. After graduation, I had some free time and I was motivated to learn all of the things that dental school did not teach me. I also enjoyed the socializing aspect of traveling to conferences and meeting like-minded dentists, as well as reconnecting with old friends. My boss generously offered to pay for my courses, so there was no stopping me.
I took a major break from traveling in 2014 when I had my son. I always try to attend the AGD and AACD annual meetings, two organizations that I enjoy being a part of. Since I missed them last year, I am planning on attending both this year, and I am finding it difficult to commit to so much time away from home. I appreciate that the AGD schedules its meeting so it falls over the course of the weekend but, no matter what, one dental meeting is essentially equivalent to being away for four to five days, particularly when traveling to the opposite coast. Sure those meetings can be designated times that I will make a priority, but then there are more intense CE courses at Spear and Kois that always fall on the back burner because there just is not enough time to attend them all (will there ever be?).
My son is almost a year old, but since he was born, I probably have been away from him for a total of six days. I try to be home to put him to sleep every night. Even though I still feel like a new mom, I know those days are going to be behind me soon, so I am trying to hold on to them for as long as I can. Many of you reading this may be thinking, why not just take the kids with you and turn the week into a tax-deductible family vacation? It’s not that simple. I know spouses and kids are more likely to come along when the dentist is male, but are there any female dentists out there who bring their husbands and kids to their meetings? In my case, I think it would be a huge distraction. I like to make the most of my time; I try to attend courses during the day and social events at night, and by the end of the week I am so exhausted. I am all about multitasking, but combining family time with professional learning and networking just does not seem realistic. I could see it being more of a possibility when the kids are older, but have you ever been on a long plane ride with a mobile baby/toddler? These are just situations I would like to avoid, if possible.
So what does everyone with kids do? Do you combine dental travels with family trips? Do you not travel for CE at all? If you keep them separate, then you end up taking so many trips—not to mention time away from the kids. What if you just want to take a trip somewhere with your spouse? Perhaps I am being unrealistic in expecting things to remain the same after becoming a parent. Let me know if there is hope.
Have a great week!
Lilya Horowitz, DDS