Inspired to keep evolving and engaging our members – an interview with the Co-Directors of the ITI Study Club Nairobi

The ITI has more than 750 ITI Study Clubs worldwide and each Study Club is unique thanks to its members and the way the meetings are organized. We talked to Dr. Joseph Gakonyo and Dr. Kunal Shah, Co-Directors of the ITI Study Club Nairobi in Kenya, about why their meetings are so well attended, and a couple of the members have added their views on the value of these meetings.

Could you give us a little background to your ITI Study Club?

Dr. Joseph Gakonyo (JG): The ITI Study Club Nairobi was founded about two years ago with the inaugural lecture given by Prof. Daniel Buser. We are amazed at the momentum with which it has grown and excelled since then. Our members are highly motivated to learn and increase their knowledge of implantology.

Dr. Kunal Shah (KS): We now have over 35 members, and a leadership team of 5 including Dr. Mwirigi Kaaria (academic lead), Dr. Laura Edalia (compliance lead) and Dr. Godfrey Maronga (welfare lead). We are very motivated and inspired to keep evolving and working hard to keep engaging our members. Our meetings and events are about showcasing the full range of what the ITI has to offer its members to the ultimate benefit of the patient.


“As a tutor to postgraduate students, I actively recruit for the Club. ITI Study Club activities are a lifeline for any person currently practicing implant dentistry, without which one would be alone in one’s own corner unguided!“

Dr. Kaaria Mwirigi – member of ITI Study Club Nairobi


How do you go about organizing your ITI Study Club meetings?

KS: The leadership team meets at the beginning of each year and sets a theme for that year in line with the thematic areas set out by the ITI. For example, in 2022, we wanted to focus on peri-implant disease, full-arch rehabilitations and digital dentistry. The format is variable as we would like to engage our members in different ways using different media ranging from online sessions, face-to-face meetings, through networking sessions, to hands-on training sessions.


The Study Club meetings help me keep abreast of current developments in the field of implant dentistry through the presentations and interactions with my colleagues.”

Dr. Nisha Sapra – member of the ITI Study Club Nairobi

JG: We are also looking at conducting live patient cases for our members that can be interactive so that our members gain more clinical expertise. We aim to organize quarterly sessions as above and try to have both local and international speakers.

Do your Study Club members suggest topics and volunteer to make presentations?

JG: At the end of each year, we ask our members to put forward ideas on what they would like to see covered in the following year and we take these on board when deciding our theme and topics. We continually encourage our members to do presentations to boost their skills and to share their knowledge and experiences. Occasionally, we have a topic where multiple members can present short cases thereby making it more interactive.


Our meetings are relaxed sessions where I get to exchange ideas with colleagues on real life challenges and get to learn how to solve the various clinical scenarios.”

Dr. Nisha Sapra – member of the ITI Study Club Nairobi

How would you rate the level of interaction in your Study Club meetings?

KS: Our members are highly engaged and interact really well with each other and with the presenters both in online sessions and face-to-face meetings. Our Study Club consists of members who have different levels of clinical experience in implant dentistry. With such a heterogenous group, we have fostered a nurturing environment whereby the content of the presentations is as such that all the members can benefit from the range of various complex cases presented.


Networking is so important to me because we get to share knowledge and exchange ideas. It has given me confidence to share my experience and increased my confidence while interacting with colleagues.”

Dr. Nisha Sapra – member of the ITI Study Club Nairobi

KS: We are also encouraging a mentorship process so that members can benefit from a less formal learning environment. We actively promote networking sessions after meetings so that everyone can feel at ease in discussion with each other.


“Study club meetings are the highlight of being an ITI Member. We have numerous exciting activities alongside learning from senior and younger colleagues about dental implantology. In a nutshell, I can say I bond, network and have loads of fun in our meetings.”

Dr. Kaaria Mwirigi – member of ITI Study Club Nairobi

JG: At the end of last year (2021), we were among the first five ITI Study Clubs worldwide to have all their members renew their membership and won a generous prize of €1000 from the ITI. This was a very proud moment for us as it was a true testament to how engaged our members are. We spent the prize money on an overnight team building expedition set in the beautiful surroundings of Mount Kenya, where members were able to unwind and interact with each other and were able to build networks with each other.


“Networking is crucial to the growth of the club. Colleagues get to share tips and tricks and different ways of approaching difficult clinical situations with which we are faced daily as well as to form lifelong friendships.”

Dr. Kaaria Mwirigi – member of ITI Study Club Nairobi

Eager to benefit from your local opportunity to network with peers and discuss the latest treatment approaches in implant dentistry? Find an ITI Study Club in your area.

Authors

Joseph Gakonyo
Dr. Joseph Gakonyo graduated with a BDS degree in 2009 from the University of Nairobi as well as a diploma in implant dentistry in 2015 and an MSc degree in Implant Dentistry in 2018, both from the University of Pretoria. He runs a private practice in Nairobi City, Kenya, focusing on oral implantology with a special interest in guided implant surgery, full-arch restorations, bone grafting and soft tissue regeneration. He is also an implantology consultant at various dental institutions in Kenya. Joseph Gakonyo is an ITI Fellow, Co-Director of the ITI Study Club Nairobi, an ITI speaker and also an ITI Diploma examiner.
Kunal Shah
Dr. Kunal Shah graduated from Cardiff University, Wales in 2008. Thereafter, he worked at King’s College Hospital in London and as a Senior House Officer in Maxillofacial Surgery in Bristol. Having completed his implant training in the UK, he has many years of experience working in private practice in London and in Kenya, primarily focusing on implant dentistry and full mouth rehabilitations. Having attended the ITI Education Week in Bern inspired him to co-found and become Co-Director of the ITI Study Club Nairobi.
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