More than 2 months have already passed since the event and, even more so at the end of the year, the time has come for looking back, for conclusions and for future projects.
Held between October 7 and 9, 2020, (I was to say …) in Bucharest, the XXIV National Edition with International Participation of the Congress of the National Union of Dental Associations will represent for all of us, organizers, participants, readers , sponsors, a memorable event that will remain in the history of the Association as the FIRST (and perhaps the only) ONLINE EDITION exclusively. I was going to say in Bucharest, because online, time and space become completely relative so that speakers and listeners from all over the world can physically meet, just as a reader can record a conference long before the broadcast date and time. or he can give it live, and a participant can listen to that lecture live, in replay, or even several times.
This year’s theme was a generous, topical one, carefully chosen by the Scientific Committee and appropriate for an event of such magnitude: “Current trends in dental practice in the context of new materials and technologies.”
In support of the above, I will try to further detail some of the coordinates that were the basis for the smooth running of the event.
During the 3 days, a total of over 70 readers spoke at the microphone, holding 64 conferences and oral communications totaling 140 authors and a total speaking time of 27 hours, a real “marathon” of dental continuous education. We were joined by some of the most appreciated lecturers in the country but also by lecturers from abroad: the Republic of Moldova, the USA, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Israel, and Serbia.
Continuing an older tradition, under the umbrella of the UNAS Congress, two already well known events took place addressing both to general dentists and to resident doctors or specialists in the fields of periodontics and pediatric dentistry. These are the National Conference of the Periodontology Society in Romania, which is in its 15th edition and the 7th National Conference of the Pediatric Dentistry Association in Romania.
I would like to thank the boards of the two associations as well as we welcome the involvement of good and old friends of us: on the one hand, the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “N. Testemitanu”- Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, and on the other hand Apollonia University of Iaşi, scientific teams belonging to the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Gr. T. Popa ”from Iaşi as well as an important number of disciplines within the departments of the Faculty of Dentistry of UMF “Carol Davila” from Bucharest.
Through the contribution of all those mentioned, but not only, the participants were able to listen to very interesting conferences and oral communications from almost all fields of dentistry, as well as related specialties: prevention, restorative dentistry, endodontics, periodontics, prosthetics, surgery, implantology, pedodontics , fundamental research, ENT, oral communication, legislation.
On the other hand, if we talk about the number of colleagues who took part in the event, watching the conferences live or in replay, here we can talk about the biggest advantage of online: the fact that the event could be watched from the office, from the comfort of your own home or maybe even on vacation, not requiring the presence in a certain conference room, brought with us a total of over 2500 participating dentists to which is added a record number of over 800 students nationwide. All of them were able to watch lectures on various devices, starting with traditional desktop or portable computers and culminating in the most current phones, tablets and smart TVs. What is particularly important and different from a “traditional” congress (whose advantages and merits we do not dispute, on the contrary …) is the fact that for 30 days the public had the opportunity to resume watching certain communications or conferences or to follow those they missed live, for various reasons including those of technical nature.
And if I still brought up the technical chapter, I gladly confess that the first ONLINE edition of the UNAS Congress was a “lucky” edition. Even if we are talking about a completely new approach to such an event, the technical problems have really bypassed us. There were a few minor asynchronizations that fortunately could be resolved “on the fly”: the stubbornness of a troublesome microphone not working in any way led to the rescheduling of a conference for the next day, and a few speakers (6 in number and only oral communications) they were not able to connect to be with us live, in this case they subsequently recorded the communications that we made available to participants so that they could also be viewed. There were also situations (and unfortunately not a few) in which e-mail servers played tricks on us so that the login data for the participants did not arrive on time or landed into the SPAM folder. This aspect was properly managed by allocating a special e-mail address: email@example.com, to which the participants could report connection problems exclusively and to which after the congress they could report the problems related to the receipt of participation diplomas in electronic format which colleagues in the technical department fixed as soon as possible.
Regarding the aspect of Participation Diplomas attesting the completion of the 24 hours of Continuing Medical Education, an absolute novelty is their generation in electronic format and their transmission by e-mail to both the Congress participant and also directly to the College of Dentists to which the doctor belongs. The presentation of the abstracts book in exclusively electronic form is also included in the same chapter.
All of the above would not have been possible without the direct support of the ConectDentistry platform, an older partner of UNAS who once again was actively involved in the smooth running of all that this congress meant. We also thank them in this way and hope for a long and fruitful collaboration in the future.
A special mention is related to the involvement, as every year, of the Oral-B Brand – the main sponsor of UNAS and also one of the most important promoters of oral health worldwide. The perseverance with which Oral-B participates in this type of event that we organize, proves once again, if necessary, the seriousness with which this topic is treated within the company, something worthy of appreciation by all colleagues and not only.
Although organizing an event of such magnitude requires a huge effort on the part of all the factors involved, and the costs are commensurate, our wish was to be able to achieve everything at a lower cost per participant than the amounts raised at previous editions and fortunately I have succeeded in this. 2020 has certainly been a difficult year for all and we wish we could do more from this point of view, and one of our priorities for the future is to look for even more effective solutions.
Our hope, of all who were directly or indirectly involved in organizing the event is that we managed to satisfy everyone and that we have remained in the minds of all participating colleagues as a handful of people who tried to do something unique and at the same time useful to our profession. To those who encountered certain inconveniences mainly related to the technical support, but not only, we apologize once again and promise that next time it will be better. It is practically impossible that in an event of this caliber, with such a vast theme and with so many speakers, all conferences and communications are to the liking and interest of any participant, regardless of experience, specialty, geographical region, type of the office and the form in which they carry out their profession, but we hope that each of you has found among the presentations at least some of which can retain useful information to apply in the daily practice.
We all want this pandemic to end so we can meet healthy again in a real conference room, but at least for the next few months, online scientific events will be the rule and not the exception. Despite all the inconveniences and barriers that can be attributed to virtual environments, we must still point out the advantages that this conference format comes with:
- lower costs for participants who on the one hand do not have to travel sometimes to another city or another country, and on the other hand do not necessarily have to interrupt for 3 days the activity in the office as conferences can be watched in replay, on weekends or during the week, outside working hours
- the possibility for a participant to review as many times as he or she wants a particular conference
- In the event that a congress involves parallel conference sessions, the participants have access, live or in replay to the entire content, which is impossible to achieve in the physical version.
I keep a pleasant memory of this first exclusively online edition of the UNAS Congress and I hope that the extremely large number of participants who watched us will remain unaltered in the future, at any other scientific dental event, regardless of organizer, location or of a virtual or conventional nature. Perhaps the online will be a resurgence of the interest of all colleagues in dental education of any kind.