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The AAE’s Future and How We Must Change to Prosper

AAE President Dr. Alan H. Gluskin

We are a wonderful association of healthcare professionals. I truly believe that, as I have witnessed the hard work of our remarkable staff that serves us, and how the assistant directors of our association continually strive to make our organization relevant and meaningful for our membership. Our committees and leadership are staffed by truly dedicated and committed volunteer endodontists. Yet there are elements of our organization that say we are not keeping up with the times and in a number of years we will lose our relevance for many of our members.

How could this possibly occur if our membership today recognizes the value of our advocacy for our specialty and our significant efforts to educate the public?  We have meaningful strategic initiatives about who we are as endodontists, and the value of saving the natural dentition. Certainly our contributions in educating our own dental colleagues to the special knowledge, skills and technology we utilize every day, serves our core purpose as healthcare providers. And of course sending our brand and strategies around the world make us a respected discipline, holding the highest standards within our profession.

I see all of these efforts as meaningful and valuable to us all. Those endeavors are the core elements of our values and culture and they will endure. However, what I wish to address in this message is how we must change as an association to represent the changing profile and demographic of our membership.

When I first assumed the Presidency of the AAE, I tried to pay respect to those who sacrificed so much in striving to migrate to this country. In my own life, those sacrifices allowed for my own personal ability to grow up, as the second generation in my family, and be educated in these United States. I hearkened in that address, to our own AAE student award ceremonies that called out winner names that mimicked a “who’s-who” of names reflecting immigration from around the world; now students and practitioners within our profession and specialty.

Our membership is changing at a rapid rate as is the demographic for all of dentistry.  As we look at that demographic we need to first understand how I am characterizing the word. Demography is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings. Demographic analysis can cover whole societies or groups defined by criteria such as education, nationality, religion, and ethnicity.

Even though nearly all Americans are descendants of immigrants, we have often had a tempestuous relationship with newcomers. Whether because of nationalist sentiment, xenophobia, or simply fear of change, our country has at times enacted policies that have run contrary to American ideals.

I firmly believe that each successive wave of immigration adds to the unique blend of cultures, resource and talent that defines the United States of America. The truth is that today’s immigrants, just like our forefathers, arrived here seeking the ability to freely worship, to express themselves without fear of government retribution, and to chart their own economic destiny. America’s culture has always been a shifting landscape. What has remained constant is our values – a common belief in liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. This is how, out of many, we become one. Immigrants enrich and revitalize our institutions and beliefs, as well as our own AAE. While people may arrive as Mexicans, Indians, Persians, Ethiopians, or Chinese, over time, they and their families become Americans.  In exchange, immigrants protect our country through service in our military, foster technological innovation in companies, build our cities, harvest our crops, and enrich everything from our cuisine to our universities, music, and art.

The American Association of Endodontists is encountering these very changes that have built our country and made us unique. We are also a product of how we have thrived as a country from our emigres and this message is meant not only for our membership to understand that we are changing…. but for you, our younger members who have the potential to renew, enhance and carry our specialty forward into the future. Together the first and second generation of recent immigrants to our country account for one out of four members of the U.S.  United States census statistics describe the second generation represent 12 percent of our population.

On behalf of our association, it is a truism that we need our young members from all backgrounds to become involved in the leadership and mechanics of our association. As newer members of the AAE, no matter your background but especially those who are second generation emigres, we need your participation… when the time is right…whenever you can…. and wherever you are able.

Our future depends on our younger membership. Our current leadership has not been able to incorporate your diversity and skills as we should and the current leadership of the AAE recognizes that our future…IS YOU.

In the coming months beginning right now…you will see statements and correspondence from the AAE announcing our desire to change our constitution in the way we select our leadership. Increased diversity is needed on the AAE Board.

As part of its annual self-assessment, the AAE Board has consistently identified board composition as an opportunity for improvement and a way to move into the future. 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 our 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.

In closing this presidential address, I am asking all our membership to read and assimilate what we wish to do as an association. Please, ask questions; participate in online forums; and help our association represent YOU…. for the betterment of our member endodontists, the public, and our future.