KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Feb 20th, 2014
Contact: Dr. B.J. Moorhead
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

Where Do We Go From Here?

Can you imagine what our world would be like if everything was constant, if there were no change?  While we often reminisce about the “good old days,” in reality we would quickly become bored if we didn’t have the challenges that change brings to our lives.  Since my first day in dental school almost thirty-seven years ago, I have seen dentistry make such tremendous progress.  And yet, the challenges we face as a profession are probably some of the greatest we have seen, as well.

In the past year, I’ve shared with you information about initiatives we’re adopting at the KDA to position ourselves favorably with the public and with the legislators that so greatly affect how we practice.  I’ve talked about the political realities in Kentucky, with a political action committee that is, so far, too small to be effective and grassroots efforts that are in their infancy.  And I’ve talked about the challenges we face in our state regarding membership levels for our organization.

So, where do we go from here?  Do we sit back and watch our membership numbers slide and watch as Frankfort makes it more and more difficult to practice dentistry?  If you are taking the time to read the President’s Message, then you are already motivated enough that you want to see our profession continue to succeed.  So what will it take?

First and foremost, we much each realize that if we value the advocacy we’ve enjoyed for decades, we must each make a commitment to act – and act now.  At the KDA Leadership Conference that was held in late October, we learned that only 50.1% of general practitioners in Kentucky are members of the KDA.  The number one reason members say they value their membership is advocacy.  We have accomplished so much at the state and national level with organized dentistry, but we must immediately address the decrease that has occurred in our membership or we will lose that advocacy. 

So what will it take?  First, it will involve a change in mindset.  Most of you reading this message are in private or small group practices.  We have valued our ability to own small businesses, be our own bosses and make our own decisions.  If you are like me, you’ve probably had a negative view of “corporate dentistry.”  Yet the majority of new dentists graduating are going to work for corporate dental offices.  Does that make those dentists any less of a professional than those of us in private practice?  Don’t these dentists have the same compassion for their patients as dentists in private practice?  The biggest change in my thinking since taking office as your President is that in order to survive and thrive as an organization, we must be willing to change our mindset regarding dentists working in corporate offices. 

Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, Executive Director of the ADA, in her address to the ADA House of Delegates in New Orleans, shared a few comments about change.  Stop for a moment to think about three large corporations:   Kodak – Borders - Blockbuster.  Each company was huge; they shaped our thinking for a generation or more.  What didn’t they see coming?  Why didn’t they react?  Did they feel they were too big to fail? Why didn’t their leaders act?  What were they afraid of? 

These three companies are now out of business because they were unable to change.  Organized dentistry is losing a large segment of potential membership - those dentists who work in corporate offices.  If our ADA and KDA is to survive, we have to change our way of thinking and we must do so quickly. 

We can’t have a comfortable routine.   We have to continue working together, all of us, not just those in private practice.  Change is really hard.   We must question our assumptions, our deeply formed beliefs and our well-formed habits.  Change is hard, but it is the new normal. 

At our last meeting, your KDA Executive Board voted to begin a dialogue with dentists involved in diverse dental delivery models (i.e. corporate dentistry) to explain member benefits and encourage membership in the KDA.  Our goal will be to learn what changes our organization needs to make in order to include this growing group of dentists.  And in order to keep our KDA vital, it is my hope that each of you in private practice will keep an open mind as we explore those needed changes.

The other big change I hope to see is our political involvement.  Grassroots efforts to develop personal relationships with our legislators are probably the biggest potential tool we can develop to control our destiny.  As a private practitioner, we value the ability to control the shots in our own practice.  So, why do we stop there?  Why wouldn’t you want to take the small steps keep someone from controlling how you practice dentistry?  Make the time this month to contact your state senator and representative.  Make a donation to their campaign and write a note telling them you would enjoy having them stop in your office the next time they are in your area.  Take the time to make the connection, so that when there is an issue that will affect the future of your practice, you have your legislator’s cell phone number to make a personal contact.  And let us know at the KDA about your personal connection, so that we can get vital information to you when these personal contacts are needed most.

We can alter the path, we can meet the needs of our profession.   Everyone can win.  But we need your commitment.  To quote Abraham Lincoln, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.  The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.  As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”

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