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The AAE Board of Directors held its Interim Meeting virtually on October 16, in conjunction with the American Dental Association Annual Meeting.

Strategic Planning

The Board evaluated environmental factors impacting the specialty, framing the discussion through identification and prioritization of critical issues and key drivers of change. Critical issues are issues of strategic importance that have significant short-term and long-term implications, and key drivers are conditions or dynamics that will make the specialty’s relevant tomorrow very different than today.

The Board identified market forces (increased competition; economic impact on priority between cost, convenience and confidence in purchase decisions; alternative practice models; teledentistry), economy (expansion or contraction and the impact on discretionary income, insurance reimbursements, public policy and industry investments), and technology (changes in professional education, clinical practice, association and practice communications as well as patient access to information) as top key drivers of change for the specialty.

Changing practice models, public awareness of endodontics, and education of general practitioners continue to be critical issues for the association to address. The Board recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a critical and evolving issue for the specialty and the discussion underscored the importance of continuing to lead in providing COVID-related resources to members, and educating patients on the safety of visiting an endodontist.   The AAE will develop its strategic priorities for the 21-22 fiscal year around these priorities.

Board Transformation Initiative

As part of its annual self-assessment, the AAE Board has consistently identified board composition as an opportunity for improvement. Board composition relates to the Board’s success in building a board made up of individuals who contribute critically needed skills, experience and perspective to the association. Additionally, this responsibility includes a well-conceived plan to help the board identify and recruit members and cultivate officers, while examining and addressing gaps in areas of diversity such as expertise, race, ethnicity, age, and gender.  The AAE Board desires to introduce more diversity on the Board, and for the composition of the Board to be more reflective of the membership. The AAE firmly believes that increasing diversity will strengthen the AAE Board and result in all members feeling that their perspectives and experiences are represented by the leadership.

Research has shown that high performing boards average 15 members in size, and the method in which members of high performing boards are selected has shifted from a popular vote system to an expertise-based system. Reducing the AAE Board’s size and bringing selection processes in line with leading practices will enhance strategic discussions and the Board’s ability to be nimble in acting on behalf of the specialty.

The AAE board reviewed and approved recommended changes to Board composition and leadership selection processes to better achieve these goals. Full details on the recommendations will be presented in a separate communication to the membership, and the related proposed change to the Constitution and Bylaws will be presented to the 2021 General Assembly for a vote.

Advocacy

At its meeting the AAE Board adopted revisions to the AAE Treatment Standards White Paper. The revisions provide clarity of when a root canal treatment is considered complete. Specifically, a root canal treatment is considered complete following obturation of the canal. Concurrently, the revisions underscore the preference for placement of a definitive restoration immediately following root canal therapy. Where immediate placement of a definitive restoration does not occur, the revisions support placement of an intraorifice barrier.

In September and October 2020, the AAE reviewed over 75 resolutions to the ADA House of Delegates (HOD), and submitted written testimony on five resolutions identified as being of potential relevance to endodontics. Most notably, AAE testimony advocated to ensure that all dentists were not presumed to have the skills or be required to administer COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, to ensure that ADA HOD policy defer to the National Commission on the Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Board (NCRDSCB) to define specialties and protect specialty advertising for specialists, and to oppose the rescission of ADA policy that supports state agencies’ regulation of advertising to ensure accurate information to the public. The AAE was successful in all its efforts in that all requested amendments were adopted and the resolution to rescind existing ADA policy was referred back to ADA committees. This effort was led by Dr. Mark Desrosiers, AAE President Dr. Alan Gluskin and President-Elect Dr. Alan Law. The AAE thanks the twenty-three AAE endodontist members who served as delegates and alternates to the ADA House of Delegates.