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Working Together

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” –E. Luccock, Professor, Yale Divinity School

Several years ago I was inspired by an AAE Presidential Address given by Dr. Louis Rossman, one of my friends and life mentors.  In his address, Dr. Rossman mentioned that his mother was an accomplished pianist, and he grew up listening to music.  He then described the AAE as being like a symphony orchestra.  Forgive the pun, but this “struck a chord” with me.  My parents instilled the love of music in my siblings and me from a young age, and we were encouraged to join music groups.  It should be no surprise you’re going to hear plenty of live music at the annual meeting, and it’s only natural that musical themes will be in my final President’s Message, too.

I started my presidential year talking about the many “teams” I’ve been on in my life.  Growing up in a large family, I was always very aware that having lots of people around me at all times helped shape me for the better, and I strongly feel that you can accomplish more as a team than as an individual.  I also grew up in a family that enjoyed listening to and playing music.  I recalled that impactful message was given by Dr. Rossman.  His message reminded me of the creative, talented, and symphony-like team of we have in the AAE.

The Symphony-Like Teams

I recall when I first joined the leadership team at the AAE.  In 2003, I had the honor of serving our specialty as a director of the AAE. I remember walking into my first meeting and being approached by Lou Rossman, Shep Goldstein and Rich Weiss. After they all welcomed me, Lou asked me, ‘Is that how they dress in Minnesota?’ Then critiqued my shirt, pants and shoes. Having six siblings, I who was no stranger to friendly brotherly ribbing … that moment felt like home.  It was also the beginning of my experience on a hard-working and talented team.

The AAE itself belongs to a team of organizations with which I am proud to be involved. One of my biggest honors was serving on the ABE and giving the oral exam alongside past directors who had been my examiners. It is a remarkable responsibility and honor. I have a tremendous amount of admiration for ABE directors and the important service they provide for our specialty. I encourage everyone to take on the challenge of becoming Board-certified. Do it for yourself and do it for our specialty.

After being a director on the ABE, I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor on the College of Diplomates. For 25 years, the College of Diplomates (COD) has been a source of support and knowledge for endodontists pursuing Board certification.  Having attended several College courses and functions, I also appreciate the lifelong friendships that I have developed over the years.  In fact, it was in 2006 that I attended my first COD Fall Conference with my family and first met many of these friends, including our College of Diplomates President, Dr. Ken Frick.

Our specialty would not be as successful as it has been without the support of our Foundation.  For years, I have supported the Foundation and its mission. I do it out of appreciation of our specialty, my instructors, and all of the opportunities I have been afforded because of the service and generosity of those who have gone before me. We are so fortunate to have so many generous donors who have allowed us to improve the lives of others through education, research, and outreach.

The Musicians

At times this year, I’ve had the privilege of being the vocalist, or frontman, and I’ve used my voice to sing the praises of endodontists and the AAE on many a media stage. My “roadies” on the AAE marketing team, Kim Fitzsimmons, Elisabeth Lisican, and Michael Dobrow, did an amazing job setting up the stage for me.  I’m proud to have completed two Satellite Media Tours – composed of several interviews each. But it’s not because I got to be on TV; it’s because I helped put us – endodontists – in the limelight. Those interviews, and others, have generated hundreds of millions of audience impressions. Many more people now can pronounce the word “endodontist”, and know who we are and the amazing care we provide.

All these multitudes of successes stem from the effectiveness of our multi-year public relations campaign: Worth Saving. At the AAE Board’s directive, we implemented a multi-year public awareness campaign in early 2019 with the goal that:

“The public will value saving their natural teeth and seek endodontists as the first choice for their care. They will understand what an endodontist does and how they are different from general dentistry providers.”

“Worth Saving” is meant to bring to life that, like your natural teeth, there are things, people and places that are worth revering.

Three years into the campaign … I’m thrilled to say we have come a long way. Hundreds of millions of people have seen our materials. Hundreds of thousands more have used the search tool. And still more see the AAE when they search online for endodontic keywords.

AAE’s Advocacy in general amplifies the voice of endodontists, their patients and helps ensure endodontists have a seat at the table and are active in policy, education and more discussions and meetings!

The Compositions

The AAE’s clinical resources are among our most popular member benefits. During this membership year, the AAE released a new position statement on Vital Pulp Therapy.

The Journal of Endodontics ranks #16 out of 91 dental journals, based on its most recent “impact factor,” which comes in at a very impressive 4.171! In recent years, the JOE underwent a redesign, and a digital strategy is currently under development to help it appeal to a younger endodontic audience.

Building our Talent

As we set our sights on the future and use our wonderful new strategic plan as our compass … We realize that the future of endodontics lies with our younger members, and our membership is changing at a rapid rate.

Today’s AAE members possess a vast array of skillsets, and hail from a variety of backgrounds. We must ensure our Board is best positioned to serve their needs, and that the path to AAE leadership is well-known to all members. This annual meeting’s General Assembly will feature a very important vote on proposed changes to our Constitution and Bylaws. Our iterative approach was devised with your input, and we are very proud to witness an important vote happening Friday morning. I hope to see all voting members there!

So with all of this in mind … think about the role you play for our big band. Are you a guitarist, providing prominent riffs that stand out? Are you more about the percussion, keeping the rhythm and ensuring it blends all the other instruments together, creating one cohesive sound? Perhaps our staff is the percussion – or the backbone of our Association band.

Traditionally, the bass performs two basic and vital functions within a band or group: Bass provides the rhythmic foundation. Bass provides the harmonic foundation. Well, we know our own Foundation for Endodontics helps keep us in harmony.

Or you might be the classic grand piano. Routine is important to you, but mainly to enhance your productivity. You have a calmness about you that makes people feel at ease when they’re around you. You strive to help your patients feel at ease.

Maybe you’re like the trumpet! You’re the life of the party. Graduating from class clown to party entertainer, you’re the one everyone loves to be around. You want to make a difference in life and use your voice to share your ideas and beliefs to the world. See you at Celebrate Phoenix!

As we know, our oral health is connected to our overall health. So in that sense, as endodontists we all are tuners of the great human body instrument — though we focus on some very small parts.

And in turn, your Association is here to keep you in tune! As an endodontist, you are part of a great symphony, a specialty that reverberates, crescendos, and never falters. And with that, I thank all of you who make up our big band, so to speak. I can promise you that our annual meeting will include plenty of music, and a surprise or two. I can’t wait to celebrate in Phoenix with you, and I thank you all for a truly spectacular year.