PAGD Speaks Millennial Fluently

Steve Neidlinger, CAE

For years, every association has struggled with reaching its younger members. This is especially noticeable in dentistry, as massive student loan debt, the expanding reach of DSOs and corporate dentistry, and the increasing base of knowledge needed to begin practice has widened an ideological gap between those new to practice and those who have been in the field for years. Older dentists can’t completely understand the challenges that younger dentists face, because they never had to, and younger dentists don’t understand the pressures of practice ownership, because they don’t need to.

PAGD approached the dilemma of serving its younger members with a novel approach: We asked them what they wanted, and then shut up and listened. PAGD convened three focus groups in early 2023 and invited some of our younger members to tell us their challenges. Below, in perfect millennial speak, are some of the common themes. (Definitions are in the footnotes. If you still don’t understand, please find someone 30 or younger and have them translate it.)

  1. Time: Older dentists don’t always appreciate the time and effort that younger dentists put in. Massive debt makes practice ownership unattainable the first few years of dentisting. Associates are expected to be on fleek1, and they don’t set their own schedule to do it. Plus, adulting2 can leave you ratchet3. Multiday education may be “Goals AF”4, but shorter education and networking opportunities are fire5.
  2. Connection: The myth is that young dentists only learn and network online, which isn’t always the case. They want to vibe6 in person, but would rather spill tea with their squad7. Large groups make them want to swerve or FOH8, but smaller groups allow them to serve dentisting realness9.
  3. Communication: Email is totes cheugy10. We get so much, we can’t even11. PAGD only sends out a message or two per week, but that gets mixed in with the junk mail from REI because you got a pair of boots from them in 2013. If an association doesn’t want to get ghosted12, it has to do better with its DMs13.

Young dentists, we hear you. PAGD leadership will use the feedback from these focus groups to create new programming and adapt what we already do well to meet you where you are at. Keep an eye open for future PAGD initiatives.

1 Practicing at a high level
2 Performing functions assumed by an adult, i.e. paying taxes, raising children, etc.
3 In a disheveled state
4 The pinnacle to be achieved later in life
5 Of highest quality
6 Achieve a high level of relaxation and ease
7 Gossip with their friends
8 Avoid or leave
9 Deliver authentic dentistry knowledge
10 Very outdated
11 Are incapable of processing information
12 Unresponsive to attempts at communication
13 Direct messages on social media platforms