The Season to Celebrate Professional Relationships

Welcome to the fall edition of The Paper Point. By now, the new and "seasoned" residents have settled into a routine. Hopefully, new practitioners have also experienced a smooth entry into professional life. For many, this is a special time of year where we as specialists give gifts of appreciation to our referral sources. These items can be as simple as a card or as elaborate as a gift basket for the doctor and goodies for the entire staff. Whatever you select, the purpose is to thank these offices for their business.

In this issue we would like to highlight our relationship with another important group of business partners—our supply companies and product vendors. Whether it's at the AAE Annual Session, local meetings or our offices, they work hard to make sure we have the tools we need to be successful. Our local vendors also supply a wealth of information—not only about their products and services but also about new dentists in the area. All of this helps us in our day-to-day operations.

Besides making sure we have all of the necessary equipment, vendors also provide important financial support for organized dentistry and continuing education. They support some of the events and educational programs held at our Annual Session. And APICES, the annual resident conference, would not be possible without their sponsorship. (Be sure to check out the article about APICES 2010, held at the University of North Carolina, in this issue.)

The AAE Resident and New Practitioner Committee would like to personally thank all of our vendors and suppliers. We have invited them to share their perspectives on their interactions with us. Representatives from Brasseler USA, Treloar & Heisel and Ultimate Dental contributed articles to this issue, and we hope you enjoy their stories.

The AAE works continuously to build a stronger relationship with industry and to provide better opportunities for information-sharing and collaboration. The recap of the recent Corporate Community Conference is a great example of how both groups benefit from a lively dialogue. The conference is an opportunity for AAE leaders and corporate representatives to learn from each other. This yearís event also included a morning of panel discussions with endodontic program chairs.

Recently the AAE conducted a Member Needs Survey with a special component for residents to better assess their needs. Be sure to read Dr. Cameron M. Howardís summary of the data concerning how residents view regenerative endodontics. Dr. Howard is a member of our Resident and New Practitioner Committee and a resident at Nova Southeastern University.

We are always looking for feedback or information to share with our colleagues. If you have questions or submissions for The Paper Point, please contact our AAE staff by e-mailing residents@aae.org, or by calling 800/872-3636 (North America) or 312/266-7255 (International).

Warm Regards,

Kimberly A.D. Lindquist, D.D.S.
Chair, Resident and New Practitioner Committee

The Paper Point From a Vendor's Point of View
There is no question that without endodontic vendor support, so much in the endodontic profession would be lacking. Our vendors contribute by sponsorship of meetings and social events. They come to us in our programs and offices with news of the latest developments, samples and often goodies! They wait patiently for us while we finish with patients and are often accessible by cell phone all hours of the day. We can only imagine that it must be a very taxing job keeping endodontists and their staff happy and satisfied! That is why the Resident and New Practitioner Committee has decided to turn a portion of this issue of The Paper Point over to them! Enjoy reading about a day in the endodontic world from their perspective! Below youíll find stories about why they do what they do, favorite aspects of their jobs, interesting and humorous moments, and some of the challenges they face in the course of a typical day. Thank you vendors for all of your contributions to our profession!

Consumed With Clinical Training: Taking Time to Determine a Trusted Vendor Partner
Submitted by Shawn Johnson, ChFC, CLTC

Treloar & Heisel, Inc., has made thousands of presentations to residents over the last 10 years, and the feedback has been consistent:

  • The majority of endodontic residents plan to enter private practice
  • Many endodontic residents plan to own their practice
  • Few residents have ever had a business course
  • If a business course was taken, it was limited in scope and it was over three to five years ago

Todayís residents have a tremendous challenge. As clinical training becomes more and more involved, little time, opportunity and energy is available to explore practice management issues and more advanced business topics. Endodontics and dentistry are one of the few industries where future business owners have very limited exposure to formal business education or significant on-the-job business training.

Upon completion of a residency program, endodontists are often overwhelmed with opening a practice, navigating contractual negotiations and making difficult financial decisions while juggling their personal lives at the same time.

Vendors have an opportunity to fill in the "educational gap" and can make life a little easier by providing you with trusted advice. They have assisted former residents who have dealt with the same issues and can share their experiences.

Recent policy changes at a number of universities have limited vendors' ability to communicate with residents. Limited access is a challenge for both groups and makes it all the more important for vendors to use residents' time wisely.

On the other hand, it is not unusual for vendors to schedule a lunch-and-learn with residency programs and experience poor attendance or have participants leave after the meal without listening to the presentation. Although this is frustrating, it is understandable. I can imagine having the same temptation. The attitude may be "oral health is extremely important, but we all have work to do; and during my one break of the day I plan to"—you fill in the blank.

It is a credit to the residency programs where this attitude is an exception and not the norm. Good attendance at these presentations demonstrates that residents are looking for educational information that is not typically provided in their academic setting. As vendors, we have a responsibility to make our presentations interesting and topical so that the audience feels compelled to attend.

The elephant in the room is that while vendors are providing education, we also have an agenda. We want to highlight our products and services, and hope that you will become a customer. Our goals are similar to a specialist who leads a study club for a group of local dentists—the endodontist ultimately wants the effort to lead to increased referrals from the attendees.

The purchasing decisions made in residency and the relationships developed at the beginning of your career can have a great impact on your future. Established specialists know that having a trusted vendor to partner with consistently throughout a career can greatly ease the stresses of running a practice. But the dynamics of this relationship can be challenging, and to find the vendor who will best meet your needs it is a good idea to establish criteria to guide your choice.

We know that a recommendation from a peer is the most common reason residents decide to purchase a product. While there is some value in that strategy, vendors should strive to develop educated consumers and residents should seek to learn more about the purchases they make. Here are some questions you can ask to help evaluate a potential vendor:

  • Is the company truly an expert in what they do?
  • How many endodontists do they have as clients?
  • If their industry has professional certifications, does the representative have them?
  • Does the vendor have the respect and endorsement of professional associations?
  • Are they a national company that can provide service regardless of future practice locations?
  • What is the average tenure of their field representatives?
  • How long has the company been in this business?
  • Is the companyís product unique, comprehensive and cost-effective?

Conscientious vendors educate their consumers and encourage questions. They should not be hit-and-run artists who sell you one product and never contact you again. Properly trained vendors truly become trusted advisors. They are committed to your business and your industry, and want to partner with you throughout your career. There is nothing more professionally satisfying than seeing a client graduate from residency and create a thriving professional practice. We want to see the positive changes in your life, the growth of your practice and the additions to your family, and we hope to walk beside you as life becomes more fruitful.

To develop this relationship, residents can encourage vendor meetings and assist in scheduling presentations. Attendance at these meetings may be the only exposure you will get to these topics. However, you also need to evaluate the vendorís ability to meet your needs, use a set of business guidelines when selecting your vendor partners and look for the personal qualities you desire in a trusted advisor. The vendor relationships you establish today will be very important in your business plans and success tomorrow. Take the time to evaluate these decisions and choose wisely.

Shawn Johnson, ChFC, CLTC
Shawn Johnson is the northeast regional vice president for Treloar & Heisel, Inc. Over the last 10 years, he has helped several hundred dentists implement business and personal insurance policies, and develop financial planning techniques and investment plans. He has assisted in installing retirement plans for dental offices, as well as providing personal savings and investment strategies. A chartered financial consultant, Shawn is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Professionals and the Financial Planning Association of the Philadelphia tri-state area.

The Dental Rep/Endo Resident Relationship
Submitted by Jack Burlison

As the national endodontic manager for Brasseler USA and a member of the AAE Foundation Board of Directors, I am constantly interacting with endodontic residents from around the country. I look at this interaction as being a mutually beneficial relationship for both the resident and myself as a dental company representative. It is important that I get to know my future customers at the very start of their endodontic careers.

It is also important that the resident see the benefit of their interaction with the industry representatives. The question they often ask is, "How can a relationship with a dental company representative benefit a resident?" The following are some examples of how such a relationship can help the resident grow:

  • The resident will gain experience interacting with the dental industry and evaluating its products and services.
  • It helps the resident gain knowledge about future practice needs.
  • It will facilitate product decision-making.
  • It allows the resident to better understand the endodontic marketplace.
  • Ideally, it gives the resident an enhanced ability to separate marketing from scientific fact.

It should be clear how these experiences might benefit a resident or new practitioner. But as a representative for a leading endodontic products company, I see the benefits from the interaction in my own personal growth, as well. This interaction has definitely helped me to be better prepared each and every time I meet with a group of residents. This relationship then becomes a partnership that will also aid the resident throughout their career. This relationship is most importantly about educationófor both the sales representative and the resident. Ultimately, it is the patient who benefits the most from the well-equipped endodontists that are born from this partnership.

Jack Burlison
Mr. Jack Burlison received his B.S. in biology with a minor in business from Gonzaga University in 1984. He then went to work for Cardinal Health Systems from 1984Ė1986; in 1986, he was hired by Brasseler USA as a district manager in Minnesota. He was then transferred to manage the Miami district in 1988. In 1989, Mr. Burlison was promoted to southern regional manager and relocated to Dallas, Texas. He held this position for 13 years before being named national segment manager of endodontics in 2002. Mr. Burlison continues to lead the endodontics division for Brasseler USA both domestically and abroad.

Strong Relationships Create Positive Business Partnerships
Submitted by Greg Siskin

Each year, my sales staff and I visit many dental schools that have graduate endodontic resident programs, and we participate as an exhibitor at various meetings. At a recent meeting, an endodontist approached me, beaming with pride over the beautiful young lady tucked closely under her arm. "This is my baby," she said. "She is graduating from endo school this spring, and I want your company to take care of her just like you did me when I graduated years ago."

Now you might think my first reaction would be, "I am getting really old!" Without question, I have been in this industry for many years, but that was not my overwhelming impression at that time. Instead, my mind was filled with thoughts about the importance of building relationships.

You see, I think some dental supply companies are all about just selling products, but at Ultimate Dental we are more concerned about building relationships. Our goal is to create a trusting friendship that will allow our sales staff the privilege of becoming an integral part of your practice.

When residents graduate, they donít just need products to set up their office; they need sound counsel about products to use in their practice. If they already have a list of items that they think they will need, then they need someone who can give them advice based on years of working with the new practitioner. Some "standard" list may tell them that they need 60 packages of every size file as they venture into the world of paying patients, but my sales staff would quickly advise them that 60 packages of some size files would take 10 years to use. If they donít already have a list, we have prepared a booklet with suggestions based on almost 50 years of monitoring new practice requirements. In addition, our staff would share their knowledge of new graduate programs and manufacturer incentives that are designed to assist new practices. Furthermore, our knowledge extends to the cutting edge of technology. My staff spends hours each week researching the latest innovations in the industry so that we may give informed counsel and suggestions in that area as well.

If it sounds as if I am bragging about my staff, perhaps I am. However, someone once said, "If itís true, then it ainít bragging." The staff of Ultimate Dental is comprised of the most knowledgeable, friendly and helpful people you will ever meet. The walls of their offices are not only lined with flyers featuring quarterly specials, graduate contract details and free goods programs, but also with pictures of their customers' graduations, wedding invitations, birth announcements and even postcards from vacation sites. Those walls say "relationships" because we are about relationships.

In fact, Ultimate Dental was started on perhaps one of the most fundamental relationships in life: father and son. When I was a little boy many years ago, my father, Dr. Milton Siskin Sr. started our company, ENDOCO, Inc., because he couldnít get the kind of quality, service and pricing that he thought was essential to run a successful endodontic practice. For years, we had an exclusive endodontic identification, forging our excellent reputation in the specialty. Now, we are a full-line dental supply company doing business under the name of Ultimate Dental, but our endodontic identity will forever remain.

My dadís philosophy was to service a dentistís every need, whether to provide a financial package from a bank that would address new practice requirements or give private label items that allow the practitioner to purchase the highest quality endodontic products at the lowest prices in the industry. My dad always stressed that I should work on friendship first because a good relationship was the foundation of a strong business partnership. My dad was a wise man.

Each year my staff and I look forward to a new group of endodontists headed into the working world. It is our goal to build a bond with each of them for a life-long relationship by providing the tools to get started and then continue in a successful, rewarding career.

Greg Siskin
Greg Siskin is the President of ENDOCO, Inc., d/b/a Ultimate Dental, an international dental supply company based in Memphis, Tenn. He received both his B.S. in business administration and his M.B.A. from the University of Memphis. He has been active in the dental supply industry for over 35 years. He currently serves on the AAE Corporate Relations and Exhibits Advisory Committees.

Open Communication: Industry Representatives and Department Chairs Discuss Ethical Issues


Educators and industry representatives put their heads
together at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago, Ill., to discuss
ethical issues and brainstorm solutions.

Collaborations between industry and education bring together two groups with different expertise and perspectives. Along with the special strengths that each brings to the table come different needs and goals that may create challenges or even conflict.

For example, corporations and universities can leverage their research initiatives through joint projects. But these collaborations can potentially lead to ethical dilemmas. What happens when the results of a study are unfavorable to the companyís product? Universities can benefit greatly from corporate support, but what if a grant from a company comes with stipulations that may influence the schoolís teaching philosophies or curriculum?

Questions and issues like these were on the docket for discussion at the 2010 AAE Joint Conference of Department Chairs and Corporate Representatives, where endodontic department chairs and leaders from the endodontic industry joined together in Chicago, Ill., to discuss their collaboration on the specialty of endodontics. Some of the most important issues discussed were ethical dilemmas, financial challenges and conflicts of interest. Each of these issues affects the relationship between industry and education, but if handled properly with open communication, each group can see successful results.

Multiple panel discussions proved that a focus on increased communication between the groups would benefit both parties. The program directors in attendance stressed that providing high-quality education is their ultimate goal, but that they also wish to expose their residents to a wide range of industry products. In order to successfully balance these interests, each group must understand each otherís cultures. If institutions want to continually explore technological advances from the industry, they must work around conflicts of interest. For example, refining the rules for lunch-and-learn events to open the channels of communication for corporate representatives and residents will allow both groups to thrive.

Both parties acknowledge that vendors are both providing education and selling a product to residents; however, allowing residents to establish relationships early on with trusted vendors can lessen the burden of managing their practices later. The corporate world, for their part, views this access to residents as an asset and embraces the opportunity to build relationships to strengthen the residentís future practice.

In reference to research collaboration, educators and vendors agreed that in order to achieve desired results, both groups "have to remain ethically motivated throughout the process," as stated by Mark Clineff of SybronEndo. The panel also delved into more complex issues raised by the corporate world's funding of university research. One presention highlighted the potential for corporate funding to create pressure on a researcher to provide an outcome that shows the corporation in a positive light. Oftentimes when research is funded, conflicts like this canít be avoided, but Dr. Kenneth M. Hargreaves, Journal of Endodontics editor and department chair at the University of Texas San Antonio, said, "You need to manage them, and the policies we develop as a result of meetings like this one should take both sides into consideration."

Allowing program directors the opportunity to directly discuss these complicated questions with industry members was an extremely valuable experience. Regular meetings of the two groups are encouraged as they will continually open the lines of communication.

Forging Friendships at Annual Resident Symposium
Submitted by Farid Brain Shaikh, D.M.D.


(Far left) Dr. Lindquist welcomes residents to the seventh annual APICES in Chapel Hill, N.C. Residents enjoyed mingling with their peers from other programs across the country at a welcome reception and social event.

The seventh annual Advanced Programs in Clinical Endodontics Symposium—APICES—was hosted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in July, and it was a huge success. There were over 150 residents representing 42 programs in attendance, as well as 14 speakers and 39 vendor representatives. It was one of the most well-attended resident conferences yet!

Many residents felt this conference had one of the best speaker line-ups in the entire seven-year history of the meeting. The outstanding lecture series covered everything from root canal infections, retreatment, pain control and trauma to law and ethics. The program spanned the entirety of Saturday and half of the day on Sunday. Residents took time during breaks to mingle with vendors displaying some of the specialtyís most technical and up-to-date tools.

The meeting gave residents from programs all over the nation the chance to meet in Chapel Hill, share their experiences in the field and forge friendships that will likely last their entire careers.

During both of the social events, held at the R&R Grill on Friday night and Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery on Saturday night, the residents were given the opportunity to win many different prizes ranging from endodontic equipment and materials to everyday electronics such as iPods and GPS navigation systems in a raffle. Raffle prizes were donated by various APICES sponsors as well as the AAE. For me, one of the most enjoyable moments during APICES, aside from catching up with friends from other programs, was winning one of the 40 raffled prizes—an X-Smart Wireless Rotary Motor!

Overall, we really enjoyed the conference and are already looking forward to next yearís APICES at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. UNC Program Director Dr. Eric M. Rivera and his residents served as amazing hosts and showed us a wonderful time with a dose of southern hospitality.

More information on the conference can be found at www.apices.info/speakers.html.

Farid Brian Shaikh, D.M.D.
Dr. Shaikh is currently an endodontic resident at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pa. He and his wife recently moved back home to Philadelphia from Honolulu, Hawaii, where he completed a one-year AEGD program through Lutheran Medical Center. He received his undergraduate degree and his D.M.D. from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectfully. He was inspired to become an endodontist for a combination of reasons: his fascination with the complexity of the field, the ability to relieve patients from excruciating pain and the fact that there is so much unknown about endodontics, meaning there is always more to learn in the field. Outside of endodontics, Dr. Shaikh has a passion for learning and exploring new thingsóhe enjoys hiking, kayaking, scuba diving and other outdoor activities. He spent time studying abroad in Italy and has completed international missionary trips.

Regenerative Techniques on Residents' Radar
Submitted by Cameron M. Howard, D.M.D.

If youíre looking for the buzz in endodontics, itís definitely in regenerative techniques.

My program, Nova Southeastern University, is heavily involved in researching this new area of our specialty. The results of a May 2010 AAE survey of residents indicates that this is also a topic of great interest to other residents across the country. Below is a summary of their responses to related survey questions:

Question: What areas of training are most important to you in addition to clinical endodontics?

Results:

58%—Regenerative Endodontics
58%—Teaching/Academics
42%—Implants
26%óResearch

Question: Should endodontic programs teach the following?

Results:

91%—Regenerative Dentistry
61%—Implantation

The survey results suggest overwhelming support for including regeneration as part of the endodontic curricula and weak support for implants.

Question: Do you plan to place implants in your practice?

Results: Only 21% responded ďyes.Ē This suggests that the majority of residents are not planning to place implants as part of their endodontic practice.

Overall, survey results suggest that while implants are important, residents are far more interested in curricula, training and symposia aimed to provide them with the skills to deliver regenerative endodontic procedures.

The survey results are encouraging for the profession because they demonstrate that endodontic residents are conscious of developing trends for the care of their prospective patients. Moreover, it indicates that they want to have the training needed to provide the best possible standards of endodontic care. It is refreshing to see the newest members of the AAE being so progressive and adaptable about their training needs. Steps are needed to ensure that all endodontists, from the least to the most experienced, can benefit from the latest technology. To this end, we must support the needs of all of our members and make sure that regenerative endodontics is included in the agenda for our curriculum and symposia moving forward.

Regenerative endodontics is our professionís contribution to the stem cell era of health care. It can give us all the confidence that our profession will be prosperous long into the future. With our future assured, we can take heart from knowing that we continue our tradition of attracting the most gifted and caring dentists to train as endodontists.

Thanks for reading,

Cameron A. Howard, D.M.D.
Resident and New Practitioner Committee

Do You Have News to Share?

The Resident and New Practitioner Committee is looking for fun news about your program to include in the next issue of The Paper Point, the quarterly e-newsletter sent to all residents and new practitioners.

  • Have any exciting happenings in your program?
  • What were your residents up to this summer and fall?
  • What types of groundbreaking research are happening at your institution?
  • Any famous alumni?

Please direct all questions or send any news items to Alyson Hall, AAE development coordinator, at ahall@aae.org, or by calling 800/872-3636 (North America) or 312/266-7255 (International), ext. 3008.

© 2010 American Association of Endodontists. All Rights Reserved.
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American Association of Endodontists
211 E. Chicago Ave., Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60611-2691
Phone: 800/872-3636 (North America) or 312/266-7255 (International)
Fax: 866/451-9020 (North America) or 312/266-9867 (International)