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The President’s Message–Navigating Challenge and Change

Timothy C. Kirkpatrick, D.D.S.
President, American Board of Endodontics


In 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABE certified 112 new Diplomates! The dedication of these new Diplomates to the specialty of endodontics deserves the appreciation of all AAE members and is vital to the future of our specialty.  Congratulations!

Along with everyone in our organization, 2020 posed many challenges for the ABE.  Normal processes had to be reimagined to accommodate the many obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In March of 2020, as the effects of the pandemic were beginning to be felt throughout the country, we were still able to conduct our previously scheduled Oral Exam in St. Louis for 52 candidates.  We had originally prepared for 96 examinees, however, as travel and quarantine mandates were imposed around the country, some candidates and examiners alike were not able to travel to St. Louis.  This new reality forced us to postpone the October 2020 exam, and instead transition to a Virtual Oral Exam for March 2021.  The ABE plans to conduct the October 2021 Oral Exam in St. Louis as in years past and will continue to explore options to provide expanded opportunities for candidates to take the Oral Exam.

A bright spot in our year was a generous grant from the Foundation of almost sixty thousand dollars.  The ABE is committed to an ongoing effort to refine and improve the board process and these changes require advancements in technology. The importance of these innovations cannot be understated as we continue to increase the numbers of diplomates and align ourselves with the current demands of a technology-based future. The need for these electronic-based resources have been further accentuated during this pandemic. Technological updates to our testing processes as well as a new data management system have helped to improve the user experience and facilitate the behind the scenes management. The Foundation grant enabled these improvements crucial to our growth and we thank them for their generous support of current and future board-certified endodontists.

Finally, in a year of many changes, the one most profound is the retirement of our much-loved Chief Operating Officer, Margie Hannen. For many of us, Margie has been the ever-present face of the ABE for our entire endodontic careers.   Margie was with the organization for over 20 years and helped guide the Board through many transformations and incredible growth.  Throughout her tenure with the ABE, she was an unrelenting advocate of board certification and a huge supporter of Candidates going through the process. Her legacy at the ABE lives on, and as we thank her for her years of service to our specialty, we wish her a joyful and much deserved retirement.

We are fortunate that Ms. Ivana Bevacqua, previously the ABE’s Chief Administrative Officer, has assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer. Along with Ms. Patricia Scaletta, Chief Administrative Officer and Ms. Kerri Hannen, Credentialing & Meetings Manager, the staff transition has been seamless as they continue to work tirelessly on behalf of candidates for board certification. The behind the scenes work of the ABE staff is often unseen and underappreciated but we are truly grateful for their efforts and their critical role in the board certification process, especially in in this most unusual year.

It has been an honor to serve with my fellow Directors on the ABE. This past year has provided many challenges and I am incredibly proud of this Board as it has risen to the occasion to enable the mission of the ABE to continue while operating in the reality of an ongoing pandemic. With the increased number of Candidates challenging the Board Certification process, our current Directors could not administer the required number of examinations without the help of a dedicated group of former ABE Directors.  Our appreciation of their commitment to the ABE is immeasurable. Thank you for your continued support of the mission of the ABE!