“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”—Yogi Berra
An association is a group of people who voluntarily come together to solve common problems, meet common needs, and accomplish goals. Every association was formed for the same reason—to do valuable things better together than any single person could do alone. The leadership of the American Association of Endodontists is composed of a diverse and dedicated board of directors whose overarching goal is to maintain, improve, and advance the specialty of endodontics and to advocate for the association’s members and the public.
It is an important responsibility to plan and care for the welfare and future of our association–a complicated process which takes much thought and analysis. To form a strategy for the advancement of our specialty and our association we must ask ourselves what matters, organize around what matters, focus time on what matters, and act on what matters.
The result of this analysis is the formulation of a “Strategic Plan” which guides the actions of our association. Strategic planning is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document an association’s intended direction. The process is utilized to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align stakeholders on the organization’s goals, and ensure that those goals are backed by sound data and reasoning. Strategic planning is an ongoing process, allowing enough leeway to scan the environment, identify new opportunities and threats, and pivot away from the original plan if appropriate. Strategic planning requires time, effort, and continual reassessment. Good strategic planning allows our specialty to move forward by setting goals, defining outcomes, and tracking performance.
The core purpose of the American Association of Endodontists is to “advance the art and science of endodontics and to promote the highest standards of patient care.” Members are supported in their pursuit of excellence through research and education, leadership and advocacy, philanthropy, and service. In December 2021, the Board of Directors formulated, approved, and adopted a new strategic plan which zealously supports the core purpose and mission of our association. It prioritizes public outreach, collaboration with the dental profession to assure adherence to the highest standards of endodontic care, and support of the diversity of our membership and the global advancement of endodontics.
The AAE Strategic Plan
Goal 1: The public will value saving their natural teeth and seek endodontists—the specialists in saving teeth—for their care.
The main objectives of this goal are to increase the value the public places on saving their natural teeth and to increase public awareness of the specialized training and expertise that endodontists possess. In addition, a relationship between oral and systemic health will be established, furthering the public’s desire to maintain a healthy natural dentition. To support these goals, the AAE has planned several important strategies, including continuation of our successful Worth Saving and A Healthy Mouth=A Healthier You campaigns and an escalation of the association’s digital presence (social, print, and telecast media). In addition, opportunities for collaboration with other dental associations and for members to engage and promote public awareness on a grass roots level will be explored and created.
Surveys conducted by the AAE confirm members’ desire for more advocacy for our specialty, for the valuable role endodontists play in dentistry, for direct marketing to the public, and for the benefits of endodontists performing endodontics. In my most recent media tour appearances, I have also advocated for direct patient referral to endodontists in cases of tooth pain. This strategic plan goal will increase public awareness and advocacy. Data now shows that we have made incremental and substantial progress in making the public aware of endodontists and the vital role they play in dental care. Our efforts in this area will continue at even higher levels.
Goal 2: The dental profession will value endodontists as partners with advanced expertise in restoring oral health.
Despite increased and upgraded public awareness efforts, statistics show that our main source of patients is via referrals from other dental professionals. We also know that most root canal therapy performed throughout the world is performed by general dentists who possess varying degrees of endodontic skill and knowledge. Goal two takes these facts into account and offers a three-pronged strategy to address endodontic education, practice, and clinical expertise issues within our profession. At the basis of this goal is to promote the highest standards of practice in educational institutions and in clinical practice. AAE Publications such as the Case Difficulty Assessment Form and White Paper on Endodontic Competency set the tone for this effort. In addition, the association is developing resources to support endodontists in developing effective referral relationships and promoting the benefits of specialty endodontic practice to patients and dental practitioners alike.
Goal 3: The AAE will be recognized for providing an environment that is welcoming and supports the diversity of its members as leaders for the global advancement of endodontics.
The long-term success of any association requires forward thinking, leadership development for the future, and most importantly, member input and participation. The diversity of our membership (geographic location, practice setting, clinical vs. education, specific expertise) is an asset which must be harnessed and utilized. This goal aims to increase the perceived value of AAE membership and to cultivate future leadership that is effective and reflective of the membership at large. It will also stimulate member engagement and provide members with resources for critically assessing emerging technologies in endodontics. The future of our association and our specialty is highly dependent upon this goal.
The Strategic Plan of the American Association of Endodontists is a living, breathing document which considers member needs, the changing landscape of endodontic practice and education, and the changing demographics of our membership. It is neither static or inflexible and will effectively address the issues which affect our specialty and endodontic care for the public. The AAE encourages your input. and participation in shaping the future of our specialty. Your involvement is critical to the success of our organization.