Being a Dentistry student is tough enough on its own but being the Co-president of the Manchester Undergraduate Dental Research Society at the same time brings all sorts of challenges. Third year student on the BDS programme, Edward Small, is exactly that and recently he was part of a team that was tasked with organising a conference for students from every dental school in the country. Below, Edward provides us with an insight into life as a Co-president and gives us the lowdown on the biggest British Undergraduate Dental Research Conference to date…
On Saturday the 16th of March we were proud to host the fourth and largest British Undergraduate Dental Research Conference in Manchester with over 330 delegates.
This has become a proud University of Manchester tradition organised by the Manchester Undergraduate Dental Research Society. We are a society run by students for students that aims to widen the scope of undergraduate learning, highlight the opportunities in research and support students.
Before I get in to the nuts and bolts of it all I would just like to say that the conference wouldn’t have been possible or as good as it was without the fantastic committee and the hard work they all put in – Neelam Khan (Co-President and Conference Organiser), Shihan Vandy-Brown (Secretary), Sumaya Al-Attar (Conference Co-Ordinator), Mariyah Aseri (Marketing and Social Media), Megan Clarkson (Events Co-ordinator) Nikita Dzyuba (Wikipedia Project Lead), Ali Al-Naher (Treasurer), Tara Kang (Blog Editor).
We were founded in 2014 initially as part of the Medical Society by Mohammad Jaberansari who, along with his committee, held the first conference in Spring 2015. We have held four conferences so far with each growing larger than the last. It is now truly established as a national conference with attendees from every dental school across the country.
I first became involved in my first year after hearing past president Ismail Khalil talk to us about what the society has to offer and why this is a unique opportunity for students at Manchester. I became the treasurer that year and quickly realised I wanted to become involved long term. In my second year at the society my responsibilities grew as I was the Manchester lead for an international dental project started at the University of Dundee. This aimed to improve the quality of Dental Wikipedia for the benefit of both students and patients.
This year I have become the Co-president along with Neelam Khan (4th year). This has been a major step up for both of us in terms of responsibilities and pressure but massively rewarding. As presidents, you must be on top of managing your committee to make sure everyone know what they need to be doing but also you have to make sure everyone is happy.
People joined the society as they believed in what we are trying to achieve and want to contribute but they also should enjoy themselves and be supported whilst on the committee and afterwards. I have made many great friends through the society who are there if I require help be it academically or non-academic.
The British Undergraduate Dental Research Conference is unique in the undergraduate dental world, with over 50% of the students coming from other universities. The event has grown to become a truly national conference that is benefiting students no matter which university they attend. The conference aims to fulfil two aims, to bring research to the undergraduate level and to improve your professional work. This is achieved through morning lectures on the theme of research and afternoon workshops on a huge variety of clinical and non-clinical topics.
In organising the conference, we had many obstacles to overcome, from finding the ideal time and venue to finding sponsorship and speakers to maintain the high standards from previous years. This was a task that utilised the skills of the whole committee and many sleepless nights but together any challenge could be overcome.
The true highlight of the conference for me was seeing the delegates enjoying themselves and the day flowing smoothly despite a few technical hiccups that are inevitable with a conference on such a large scale. This was the true pay off for me, to see that we delivered on our promises and the hopes of the delegates for a truly successful day.
So far we have been overwhelmed with the feedback with 99% of delegates being happy with the day and 90% of delegates believing the workshops contributed to their academic learning and professional development.
I see myself retiring from the society this year as I want others to benefit from this society that has given so much to me. I am so grateful for all that I have gained and don’t think I could ever repay for what it has done for me.
I plan to be on hand to assist with the future for the conference as the other past presidents have for me and to help ensure the continued success of the conference.
I would strongly encourage all dental students and dental therapy students to apply for this as it is a unique opportunity that you will reap the benefits of for years to come.
I can’t wait to see how the society will grow in the coming years!