“Giving is what fuels us. Giving is our future.” -Blake Mycoskie
Here’s to our future!
As we enter the holiday season, it is common take stock in our current year and make a toast to success in the future. Not long ago, I took part in an important exercise that gave me an appreciation of the success of our specialty, but also how much of the success I took for granted. At the same time, it made me realize how important it is to invest in the success of our specialty for our future.
In 2019 the AAE submitted a report for the periodic review of the specialty to the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards (NCRDSCB), which takes place every 10 years and is conducted for all recognized dental specialties. This is a fancy way of saying the AAE had to justify the existence of endodontic as a specialty. The periodic review report consisted of the following four sections where we had to list and explain our accomplishments.
I. General Information and Demographic Data
II. Major Research Changes and Technology Advances
III. Trends in Specialty Education
IV. Changes in Scope of Practice
In other words, if we could not prove we were growing in numbers, conducting research to improve outcomes, educating future practitioners, and continually advancing our specialty, we risked losing our status as specialists. No small task. I had the good fortune privilege of working with several AAE past presidents of the AAE (Drs. Gary Hartwell, Linda Levin, Sandy Madison) and AAE staff (Trina Andresen Coe and Srini Varadarajan) to develop and submit the lengthy document. I am happy to report that we were successful!
You might be thinking, “Why wouldn’t we be successful? We have a growing number of endodontists, we are conducting research we demonstrates our commitment to improving the care we provide, we have a growing number of board certified endodontists, and we have amazing endodontic educators.” This is all true, but we cannot take any of this for granted. So, what can you do to make sure we have a strong and continually advancing specialty? You can support endodontic research and education, and there is no better way to support endodontic research and education than by supporting the Foundation for Endodontics.
The Foundation, which was established in 1966 as the philanthropic arm of the AAE, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Annually, the Foundation aims to give away over $1 million in support of endodontic research, education, and access to care. Thanks to the generosity of its donors, the Foundation has supported scientific discoveries that have become part of everyday clinical practice, including research on bioceramic materials, local anesthesia, techniques and non-narcotic pain management, pulp regeneration and healing, new materials and techniques to prepare canals, and new techniques in disinfection.
Additionally, the Foundation is responsible for supporting full-time educators, many of your most valued mentors, by providing awards and grants to assist with professional development and other career building elements. The Foundation is the only non-profit solely dedicated to supporting the art and science of our great specialty.
In the past 10 years, the Foundation has dedicated nearly $6.5 million to research specific to endodontics and $8 million to education, including through travel grants and funding to full-time educators, educational fellowships, and educational institutions. We have been fortunate as a specialty to have a majority of AAE members supporting our Foundation, over 60%! I suspect that many of us give out of a sense of gratitude for what we have been given, while others give out a sense of duty. How many of us give to help keep our specialty strong for our futures, and future endodontists and patients? I would argue that securing the future of our specialty is more important than any other reason to give.
In addition to making our toasts this year, we should all be making a commitment to our future by supporting our Foundation for Endodontics: “Here’s to our future!”