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When Giving Back is Giving Forward

AAE President Dr. Alan H. Gluskin

As we look around us and see a world overwhelmed by pandemic disease, hunger, and war, who is left caring about saving natural teeth?

That is the mission to which we have committed ourselves as endodontists. We have the most expertise in this component of oral health. It’s up to us to advance our specialty. It’s up to us to advance clinical and scientific research and endodontic training, and to offer our special expertise to the vulnerable and underserved.

Our AAE Foundation takes up that charge. No other entity in endodontics is as vested in the strategic thinking, critical review, organizing, and financial support required to coordinate these efforts. For my last Presidential message of 2020, I wish to stress that our Foundation is our responsibility. When we give back, we are really giving forward to the future of endodontics…investing in our own futures, and the health and well-being of all those who benefit from our care.

Contributions to the AAE Foundation are not charity. Contributing to our Foundation is philanthropy…a core value of the AAE. Charity is different from philanthropy. I believe that the purpose of charity is to ease immediate suffering. It is usually a temporary solution. The purpose of philanthropy as I know it is to support projects and endeavors from which we all benefit. We may also support efforts that may not be hot topics socially, or efforts which struggle to gain widespread understanding among the general public. That pretty much defines Endodontics.

The Foundation’s impact is all around us, albeit in sometimes subtle ways. If you’re a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics, or are thinking about becoming Board-certified, you should be pleased to know the Foundation’s financial support of technology upgrades helped refine and improve the certification process, an enhancement critical to our efforts to increase the number of Diplomates.

If you’re a clinician in private practice, it should matter to you that the Foundation helped create a vehicle for future dentists to gain a greater understanding of appropriate referral points to specialists for endodontic procedures.

If you’re an endodontic academician, you already know the value of the Foundation’s backing for educator support and research funding in the science of our specialty, including critical areas like pain control, which serves our fellow man.

No matter what your professional path, your innate compassion inspired your desire to choose a career of relieving patients of pain. Your Foundation’s access to care outreach for people in need defines who we are…who you are…as a human being. We make new life trajectories possible for patients who would have otherwise never seen an endodontist.

No one has escaped this pandemic year unscathed by the suffering of so many of our fellow citizens. Endodontists have a meaningful role as health care providers alleviating pain and suffering and, critically now, keeping patients out of hospital emergency rooms where caring for COVID-19 victims is a priority.

As we approach the end of 2020, I ask you to consider all the good things in your own lives. At this holiday time when we reflect on our blessings and what our profession means to us, giving back to our Foundation for Endodontics is a worthy way of showing our gratitude.

But we are grateful not just once. Our Foundation contributions should not be a “One–Off” commitment. We need to reflect, especially at those moments in our lives when the house or practice is paid off, the kids are educated, or the future is secure, what afforded us the means to reach those milestones. Endodontics has given us all the means to give back.

I made my first contribution to the Foundation of the American Association of Endodontists in the 1990s. I made a commitment to myself that I would continue giving to our Foundation as a career responsibility and once a pledge was paid off, I would continue to re-invest in our specialty by making another pledge. I have done this five times in the last 20 years. I view this commitment as supporting a specialty that gave me significant purpose in my life, a career of distinction for the son of an immigrant family, and ultimately, the satisfaction of personal self-worth.

Humbly, and with great appreciation for serving you all this year as AAE President, I ask you to give what you can manage. The equivalent of a couple hours of your time a year would make a huge difference. Just don’t make it a one-off. Our future depends on it.