GAGD EXPLORER • SPRING 2015
By Carol A. Wooden, DDS, MAGD
Organized: Prepared, structured, planned, ordered, well thought out
As we see our professional horizon change with the threat of dramatic government led healthcare changes, midlevel providers, multiple economic woes, high levels of student debt, and many other obstacles that were not there just a few years ago, it is more important than ever to support those who are seeking solutions not only to protect the profession but to protect you, your future, and very importantly – your patients.
The most important protection against professional threats of all kinds comes from dentistry being organized well enough to fight these challenges. The single most important factor in dentistry being prepared is you. It is of paramount importance that you are part of the solution. Things you can easily do are: join, donate, and volunteer.
So let’s start with the minimum: you say you don’t have much time? Joining is as easy as writing a check or going online and clicking a few keys. It is a business expense. It can be a tax deduction. When I say join, I do not refer just to joining the Academy of General Dentistry (although that is one obvious goal!). All of dentistry is under fire in one way or the other at this time. If you believe others will be able to stand up to it all without you and your help, including your dues dollars, think again. There is no one who will be unaffected by ongoing and upcoming changes – be they general dentists, specialists, or the organizations that support them.
Join those who fight for you, who educate you, and who help you succeed. Join those from whom you and your profession gain direct benefit. Join your mother organization. Join your specialty organization. Financially and otherwise support anyone who has your best interest at heart! In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, supporting as many formal organizations as you possibly can with your dollars is essential to long-term success. For all dentists, the American Dental Association (ADA, State DA, District DA) is our umbrella group.
All recognized specialties have their own specialty group (AAOMS, AAO, AAP, AAPD, and on and on). For those of us who are general dentists – the quarterback of the dental team – the “specialty” group representing us is the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). And lest you think I forget such groups as
the National Dental Association (NDA), the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) and the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD), I do not. The profession of dentistry, depending on your age, has either been very good to you or will be very good to you. Giving back by the simple act of writing a check or clicking online will continue to protect the future of our great profession for those coming up now and those behind them – and the patients we all serve. It will protect and help you.
While you are writing checks or clicking online keys to join, consider donating! It takes very little more time to write or click more dollars. While dues dollars are a set amount, donations are a discretionary amount, so although I would always urge you to donate as much as possible, that also means you could donate less.
The amount is up to you, but any amount is very important. Often it can be done as an extra click or an added amount to your dues payments. The AGD has the AGD Advocacy Fund to be used for support of legislative goals and the ADA has ADPAC for the same purpose. Both organizations have a Foundation that supports many professional and public outreaches.
The AGD Foundation thrust currently is to support education, diagnosis, and cures for oral cancer. Please donate to these and/or other causes that are near your heart.
Check with your accountant or financial planner for the best way to make that donation count for you as it will count for others.
And lastly, you can volunteer! Yes, volunteering takes a bit more time and a bit more energy, but the amount of time you spend is strictly up to you and your family, professional, or other priorities. You may already volunteer for your church or other civic group. Why not take some of your energy to volunteer for your profession and your lifestyle?
There are so many possibilities to volunteer dentally that it is impossible to even scratch the surface here. There are always opportunities to volunteer for shorter or longer stents with dental organizations such as the ones above in this article. There are always opportunities in your own office setting, locally, throughout the US, and abroad to volunteer and give back by performing dentistry through outreaches or other public and private events.
If you want suggestions on how and where to volunteer, it is often as close as the nearest dentist. Dentists are known for their compassion and giving nature. What we don’t do well is toot our own horn for doing good deeds. I am willing to bet that you won’t look far for a colleague who has gone on a mission trip, volunteers at a local clinic, or volunteers for organized dentistry in some way. Just ask them and they will tell you that they feel they get back a lot more than they give. There is also camaraderie and fun involved with volunteering on any level.
Volunteering is a rewarding and fulfilling way to give back to the profession that has been good to you. If you volunteer in organized dentistry, you can help mold the future for yourself and others. If you volunteer in patient care, you not only help that patient population but also assist in any real or perceived access to care problems – which again helps your profession. You are by virtue of your own head, hands, and/or heart part of the solution!
Please be a part of the solution! Join, donate, and/or volunteer now. Need some ideas for current volunteer opportunities? Go to www.gagd.org/volunteer.html.