I just wanted to take a moment to recap the incredible experience I had in San Diego this past weekend thanks to Patterson Dental. Patterson is the biggest sponsor of AADOM, the American Association of Dental Office Managers, an association that celebrated their 10th anniversary this year in San Diego. In honor of the anniversary, Patterson gave away 10 scholarships to attend the conference. Out of over 150 nominees, I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of those scholarships based on a nomination from our local Patterson territory representative.

The scholarship prize included admission to the conference, travel allowance, hotel accommodations, meals, and a 1 year membership to AADOM.

My journey started out on Wednesday, where I rented a car to drive down to San Diego. I did my best to max out my travel allowance and rented a beautiful Mercedes Benz S550. Talk about luxury, this car had every amenity you could imagine including back massagers in the seats! The car was only topped by the San Diego Bayfront Hilton, where Patterson set me up in a beautiful ocean view room.

Like most other conferences there were lectures and vendor booths, but what sets AADOM apart is that they really focused on getting all the attendees to get to know each other. It reminded me of school where they’d force these ice breakers on you and everyone would be shy at first but by the end we’re all talking and sharing tips, tricks, and experiences.

My favorite part of the event was the diner that Patterson hosted for the scholarship winners at Roy’s. The open bar was great of course, but the chance to sit and talk with all the winners was so much fun. Being the winner with the least experience in the dental field, it was just a great atmosphere to ask questions and learn.

At the dinner I also got a chance to talk with the representatives from Patterson. These people were the managers and VPs of the product lines that we use everyday so to be able to ask them questions directly was awesome. Eaglesoft v17 is the latest version of our practice management software. We just received it last month but we were actually supposed to get it earlier this year. Some offices got it on time but for some reason, the release was suspended. At the dinner I asked Jana, Patterson’s Technology Marketing Manager, about that and she said that it was actually her call to scrap all the discs and suspend the release until all the bugs could be fixed. I can’t even imagine having to make a decision that affects thousands of offices around the country, but to see the commitment to quality that Patterson has to the products they develop is exactly the reason we partner with them.

On a weird note, the Packers-Seahawks game was playing during dinner and I got to chatting with a fellow Bears fan from Patterson’s team. As it turned out we grew up in the same neighborhood in Chicago, went to the same schools and even had friends in common. Life is just really cool sometimes.

Moving on, on Thursday evening Dee Dee flew in after work and we got to spend some time together which worked out as my birthday was coming up. We got to explore San Diego and eat some of the amazing food that San Diego had to offer. On Sunday, we drove back to Las Vegas and ran into traffic due to a severe accident on the I-15 near Baker. Thank goodness for the back massagers!

In conclusion, I just wanted to say thank you to Patterson and their team for the honor. You guys always go above and beyond, and never disappoint. I also want to wish AADOM a happy 10th birthday. What started 10 years ago as an idea in the mind of an office manager has blossomed into a strong organization that supports an entire industry across the country. Finally, congratulations to all my fellow scholarship winners. Determining the winners was based partly on job performance but also on giving back to the community. It’s great to know that there are so many other practices out there that share our values.

To our friends and family around the country, here are the names of my fellow winners and their offices. If you live in their areas, make sure and check out their practice as they are some of the best!

Also, if you are ever in San Diego looking for some fun/good eats, here are the places we tried and would recommend: