NESO Meeting in Boston…Was It Worth It?

It has been years since I attended a Northeast Society of Orthodontics Meeting. I normally attend either the AAO, Gorman Meeting or some type of practice management seminar every year.  This year, I decided it was time to bite the bullet, venture out, and see for myself what was new and if anything had changed over the years at NESO.

It was a beautiful drive from Upstate New York to Boston.  The leaves were just starting to turn and it gave me an opportunity to relax with my thoughts before a busy weekend.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.  It went by much faster than expected.

My goal, at the meeting, was to introduce myself and my business, Orthopreneur, to area orthodontic teams, orthodontists and catch up with old friends I had made over the years, in the exhibition hall. 

I was very surprised at the number in attendance on Friday October, 5th.  Over 600 office were in attendance and the lecture hall at 9:00 was filled to capacity to listen to Doug Aiton.  As always, his lecture was very informative, well planned and a great resource on the benefits and rewards of good team work.

Doug’s Aiton’s lecture was right on… and it it was too bad that more doctors were not in attendance with their staff.  I say this because when I asked staff the question, "What is the most challenging area of your practice?"  The general answer I received from almost every office I spent time with was: 

  • "Our doctor doesn’t listen to us!"
  • "How do we get the doctor to change?"  
  • "The doctor didn’t attend the lecture with us so how do we talk about what we heard after we return to the office?
  • "Why aren’t team management lectures scheduled so that both doctors and staff can attend as a group? We can’t implement changes ourselves. Why bother."

My thoughts as I listened was " YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE THEM DRINK!"  It is very frustrating for them. I sympathize with these women.  They would really like to make a difference in each of their practices.

I, however, have been very fortunate during my orthodontic career.  I have worked with doctors and teams that have always been proactive rather than reactive when it comes to team building and communication. Yes, we had our ups and downs, but we never let it go too far or too long before addressing the issues and correcting the problems.  There were times that the services of a consultant were sought to rectify management issues and procedures that ultimately improved the day to day workings of our busy practice.  Team performance and positive attitude is one of the key requirements in a top performing office.  Unfortunately, some offices don’t know what they are missing. since they have never experienced it.

Linda Talley, a recognized  growth expert, spoke Friday on the topic of "Are You a Winner or a Whiner?" Since we all have a little bit of whiner in us, it blocks what we really want in life both professionally and personally.  On Saturday afternoon, her topic was "Did You Hear Everything Your Patient/Staff Didn’t Say?  This was a very interesting lecture on body language and how we can read non-verbal communication between patients, parents and team members.  It was especially beneficial to a TC when to stop talking and close the sale.

My only objections to Linda’s presentation was how she communicated to staff on distribution of lecture content.  She supposedly asked everyone to email her for downloadable content that was our responsibility to print.  I missed this communication somehow and had a hard time following without the printed content, as did many others in the audience.  No extras were available.  It was problematic during different areas of both lectures. All other speakers provided written materials as you walked in, as it should be.  I understand that the speakers must absorb the cost of the copying. But then again, they are compensated for their services and pass outs should be incorporated into their fees.

Tim Autrey’s Seminar on "How to Practice Perfection in Your Orthodontic Practice" was not only very entertaining but illuminating in the area of human performance and error reduction.  It was a fresh and innovative approach on how to reduce errors in the practice and improving day to day conflict, through the team approach of solving problems.

I was interested in his other programs and inquired about private consulting fees.  Although they were very pricey, I am sure, when implemented, they would be well worth the investment in any orthodontic practice. 

The Exhibition Hall still remains as I remember, much smaller in scale than the national AAO meeting and nothing  I found that was new and innovative.  Even the suppliers seemed bored and couldn’t wait to go home.

This is good news for me.  When I head to the AAO in Denver, I will unveil new ideas and products to display, in marketing and training, with little competition.  Hopefully, my book will be completed by then, on Orthodontic Marketing.  I am unaware of any other book devoted to this subject and the content will be geared towards both orthodontists and staff. It will be a great opportunity to roll it out. 

In closing, I would give the meeting a 2.5 out of 5 rating.  As I mentioned, over 600 offices were in attendance on Friday, but it dropped to less than 50% on Saturday.  Many offices that lived within a short driving distance of Boston, went home and failed to return the next day.  It was apparent that the Saturday speakers were disappointed and it showed a lack of enthusiasm and drive on the part of offices to improve themselves and their practices.  It was also unfortunate for them, that they missed 2 good lectures on Saturday.

Dr. Rod Littlejohn did a great job with speaker selection that included pertinent information for today’s progressive orthodontic practices.  However, as I mentioned earlier, "You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make Them Drink".  Too bad so many offices are dehydrated….

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