Association Membership-What’s in it for me?

Most of you should have recently received a notice to renew your AAE membership for 2017-2018. It will probably not surprise you to know that I have already renewed mine for the coming year. But why should you renew your membership? Let me provide a little background before I discuss the value of AAE membership.

The American Association of Endodontists was founded 74 years ago in 1943 by a small group of dentists who wanted to form an organization in which they could share common endodontic experiences and interests. Thirty-one charter members signed on and 21 of these members (20 men and one woman) gathered to meet as a group for the first time in February 1943. Drs. Clyde Davis, John Hospers, and Louis Grossman were the initiators of this newly formed organization.

Dr. Birger Nygaard-Ostby (left) receives the Louis I. Grossman award from Dr. Grossman himself.

Dr. W. Clyde Davis, the AAE’s first president.

In 1943, four formal objectives were established for the AAE as it laid down its foundation for moving forward:

  1. To promote interchange of ideas on methods of pulp conservation and root canal therapy.
  2. To stimulate research studies among its members.
  3. To assist in establishing local root canal study clubs.
  4. To help maintain a high standard of root canal practice within the dental profession by disseminating information through lectures, clinics, publications, etc.

The first issue of the Journal of Endodontia, published in 1946.

It would actually be another 20 years before endodontics was recognized by the ADA as a dental specialty in 1963. Since then, our Association has evolved into an organization that leads efforts in advocating for endodontics to both the dental profession and the public. From our early beginnings, we have always been the providers to promote the highest quality of endodontic care for all patients.

In 1964, endodontists quickly realized that ADA recognition of endodontics as a specialty practice did not in itself confer automatic respect for AAE members or the high standard of care we provided to the public, and so the early “public awareness campaigns” began. Efforts to educate the public and our general dentist colleagues go as far back as 1965!

Sixteen years later, in 1980, these same frustrations persisted and were echoed in the words of Dr. Edward Osetek as he strived to galvanize the membership into action. Many of our current members probably recall the public awareness efforts ten (+) years ago. While metrics were established to measure the effectiveness of that campaign, the results of those efforts fell short of the desired outcomes. While these types of efforts have been ongoing for more than 50 years, the AAE has continued to adhere to those original four objectives established back in 1943: 1) an interchange of ideas, 2) stimulating research, 3) providing member education and 4) maintaining a high standard of endodontic practice.

And so that brings us back to the original question: Association membership, what’s in it for me? Or more specifically, AAE membership, what’s in it for you? The very definition of an association, a group of people organized for a joint purpose, and the history of this Association, define who we are and what our profession is all about. Some of the concrete benefits of AAE membership are obvious – the Journal of Endodontics, continuing education for our members (the annual meeting, the Live Learning Center and the Insight Track), the AAE Connection and inclusion in our membership directory to name a few. But the most valuable benefit, for me personally, is engaging with and getting to know our endodontic colleagues within the AAE. We are a diverse group, with many opinions and varied experiences. But we share a common goal of providing the very best endodontic care for our patients. The foundation of our profession links us together and there is strength in numbers. The diversity of our group and the varied opinions of our members make us a strong association of professional health care providers. The AAE will continue to make significant contributions to the science and practice of endodontic care. It is my hope that each of you will not only renew your AAE membership, but to encourage your friends and colleagues to do so as well. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.” No one gets anywhere on their own. Be a member!

I will close with a quote from Dr. Walter Auslander, one of the 31 charter members of the AAE:

“I would like to leave you with one thought. Take the ball and run with it, don’t kick it away, and forget rigidity. We, the pioneers, have established a firm foundation that can be built upon. Our fire is not out, the hot coals are still there. Don’t let us down. Run!”

Read more about the history of the AAE at www.aae.org/history.