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2020: Vision for the Future

AAE20 in Nashville has opened for registration! Don’t delay in making plans for what will be the biggest meeting in AAE history! (If you have never been to Nashville, this is the time to go. We are in the heart of downtown and will be offering the best CE, and the best samplings from the local food and culture.) Bring your boots for “Celebrate Nashville!” at the Wildhorse Saloon and don’t forget your line dancing skills! These are but a few of the opportunities you will have to network and connect with old friends. Check out our promo videos for more on what Nashville has to offer. Register by February 19, 2020, to save!

As a special note, when you register please consider a charitable donation to our AAE20 Charitable partner, Interfaith Dental Clinic. This local community dental clinic provided dental services through its volunteers to 3,022 patients in 2018-2019 and amounted to $6 million dollars of donated services.

Aside from the AAE20 meeting, there are some very important issues that will be dealt with this month! Our Special Committee on Periodic review is gearing up with their first January conference call  of 2020, to organize for our re-recognition as a specialty. This is extremely important event that happens every 10 years. Do not take this as a “slam dunk” or “done deal” for re-recognition, because we had a close-call some 31 years ago. Ever since that scare, we have been particularly sensitive to making sure nothing is taken for granted. We will be making our case that endodontics and endodontists possess knowledge and skills that are above and beyond that of a general dentist. This has been a point of contention with the advent of the super-generalist. To this point, our specialty has been unique in developing  evidence based research in the area of regenerative endodontics. Our embrace of the development of materials and techniques for preserving non-vital immature teeth has been a benchmark no other specialty or general dentist has met. Just to plug Nashville AAE20 again, there is an entire track devoted to regenerative endodontics! Our surgical skills continue to set us apart from others and again if you have a desire to improve or re-enforce your knowledge and surgical skills, consider our workshops at Nashville AAE20! These are limited class sizes so register early to assure a seat!

One area with which we were concerned in our last re-recognition cycle was our low percentage of Diplomates. In 2007, I was ABE president, and we were at 17 percent. This has greatly improved to our present 35 percent of all endodontists being Board certified. That has been due to the American Board of Endodontics making steady, consistent changes in testing requirements and test scheduling. In 2011, there were still only nine ABE directors who acted as the only examiners for the oral exam. The oral exam was usually conducted two days before the annual session and again in November of each year. Because of the limitations of the nine ABE directors doing all of the examining, a maximum number between 45 and 52 candidates could be examined annually. That all changed in 2011 with the Board using prior directors as examiners for the orals and number of candidates jumped to 160 in 2011! The maximum number of candidates that can be examined annually now, is around 220. Just to compare ourselves to other specialties, we need to try to go over 50 percent of all endodontists being Diplomates, so keep up the good work.

In this edition of the Communiqué, the ABE is making an announcement that should stimulate some of you to finish the process with no excuses left!

Another lesser-known area that we will be visiting at our upcoming AAE Board meeting involves possible changes in our structure and Board functions. In 2004, Dr. Torabinejad recognized the need to re-examine the districting structure and from that study came the birth of District VII. In 2004 we had 6,586 members. In 2019, we had 8,066 members, so it is time again to examine our structure and efficiency. From our Executive Director Ken Widelka’s report to the board December 2019:

“We have also begun a project to invest in the long-term operating health of the AAE Board. A project with a well-regarded consultant, Mark Engle, from the firm AMC, has begun to review AAE board selection and composition. The Constitution and Bylaws Committee will guide the project which will include gathering input from stakeholders via interviews and a survey. Preliminary recommendations by Mark Engle will be presented to the Board at our Nashville meeting.”

As the incoming chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, I can hardly wait!

New for AAE20 in Nashville are the inaugural AAE International Forum and the inaugural AAE Endodontic Summit. These two events are intended to allow more interaction and collaboration between us and our international partners and each other. In my discussions this year with the leadership of several of our partners, I have heard similar problems being discussed with various approaches being taken. I hope that these two events will allow discussion for future shared solutions at future meetings.

As you can tell, with the new year, the wheels of the AAE are turning full tilt! The amount of energy and enthusiasm that our staff have shown to me is unparalleled with any other organization I have been a member of. You, as an AAE member, don’t see “behind the curtain” very often, but I have. I get to see the daily dealings and planning that goes on for everything from advocacy, to committee meetings, annual session planning to preparation for the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards re-recognition application. We have the best staff! I wish to thank all those that make it “happen”, but I especially want to recognize our Executive Director Ken Widelka and his entire team for a job well-done. It has been great working with all of you!

Lastly, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing everyone in Nashville at AAE20. Speaking on behalf of the EC, I think the leadership sees where we are heading, and it is a nice horizon!