KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Apr 24th, 2014
Contact: Dr. William J. Moorhead

Dare to Dream!

Wow, what a year!  I can't begin to thank all of you enough for the opportunity to serve as your President this past year.  It has been an incredible, awesome experience that has taken me places and given me opportunities that I would have never dreamed.

As I look back at this past year serving as your President, I am humbled for the trust you’ve placed in me, and I am very thankful for the fantastic experiences I’ve enjoyed.  It’s ironic that just about the time you learn the job, it’s time to pass the torch on.  Now, I admit that I’ve enjoyed myself so much this past year that it was difficult to step aside, but it’s also a great feeling to know that as I have passed on that torch, there are so many very capable leaders that are ready to continue our much needed work.

In ending my term as your President, I'm extremely optimistic about the future of Our Profession and Our Association.  Over just the past couple of years, my outlook on life has changed quite a bit.  I’ve lived most of my life in the mold of many dentists:  someone who described themselves as a "realist" but was often cynical and negative.  And as life's events have shaped my perception of reality, I discovered that with a new mode of thinking, things became much easier.

At the President’s reception on Thursday night at our annual meeting, I had the pleasure of presenting a 30 minute piano and vocal concert.   I ended with a song from the famous philosopher Kermit, the Frog.  The lyrics ended with:

         I've heard it too many times to ignore it.

            It's something that I'm supposed to be.

Someday we'll find it the rainbow connection,

            The lovers, the dreamers and me.

And so, in leaving office, I'm here to challenge you, our KDA members, to become dreamers. 

Now, that may sound like a pretty different suggestion, plus please hear me out.  Let’s consider a couple of perspectives:

On one side, let’s think about the song I’ll call the “Reality Chorus.”  It’s goes something like this: 

We just have to face reality.  There’s so much apathy out there.  Nobody really cares any more, there are only a few of us that will volunteer, and we can’t get it all done.  And we’re just going to see fewer and fewer members.

Now on the other side, let’s listen to the “Rainbow Connection” version:

I love my profession, and I know deep down, most of my colleagues do as well.  And the issues at stake are just too important to ignore.  It will take some effort, but if we take time to educate our members, and expose them to what we really can do, what’s really possible, we’ll see things turn around.  We’ll see attitudes change, we’ll slowly get buy in, and in the end, we’ll really make a difference.

Now, if you care about your profession, which song would you rather be singing?   As I was talking this out with a friend, I heard a really fabulous perspective that just sticks with me:  Our dreams CREATE our realities.  So don’t ever stop dreaming.

I had the opportunity back in the late 90’s to attend a CE course called Dental Boot Kamp.  Many of you may remember Walter Hailey coming to speak to us at the Galt House a few years before that.  I’ve always been a task-oriented guy and I literally had to learn people skills, and I gave Walter Hailey credit for getting me started on that track.  There is one very important lesson I learned from Walter, who passed away about five years ago.  He said “It’s better to copy genius than create mediocrity.” 

With that in mind, I have to say that one of the most notable highlights of my year was the opportunity to host the Mid-States Dental Leaders Conference in Louisville last August.  What made this meeting so spectacular was the opportunity to openly share new ideas and approaches to the problems that we all mutually face. 

One of the many ideas that came from this meeting that we’ve placed into action is a one-year pilot project that will double the number of members on our state Executive Board.  Each Society will send a non-voting New Dentist member to our Executive Board meetings.  Our goal is to be exposed to new and fresh ideas.  Tripartite dentistry – the power of three – has so much to offer us as we move forward.  As we face the challenges in our path, we can accomplish so much more by working together.   So, with this final President’s message, I want to challenge your way of thinking in some areas that I believe can help us improve the way we work together.

In my years on the KDA Executive Board, I’ve seen specialists oppose GPs and vice versa trying to protect their turf.  I’ve occasionally seen dental societies displaying attitudes of “us vs. them,” feeling they aren’t getting just representation or their fair share.  This infighting only tears us down and makes us weaker.  If we can only step back and see the big picture, there is more than enough for all of us.

I also see a similar attitude from those of us that are in private practice toward large group practices (sometimes called “corporate dental offices”) and dentists that work for them.  Many private practice dentists make the assumption that these large groups are all negative and view them as unfair competition.  Are there actually large group practices that practice ethically and also accomplish much more efficient operations that we often do in private practice?  Of course, you know there are. Just as you have seen private practitioners you felt did not always put the patient first, the same is true with corporate dental offices.  So why do we make broad generalizations?  Most likely, we react that way out fear of “competition.”  I believe dentists working in large group practices care as much for their patients as those of us in private practice.  And with trends showing that new dentists don’t always want to deal with the practice management side of dentistry, large group practices are growing substantially.  What’s my point?  For organized dentistry to prosper, we can do so much more if we open up our attitudes and work together.  If we continue to be territorial, our membership percentages will dwindle and the advocacy that we will value will disappear.  And I don’t believe there is anyone reading this that wants that to happen.

In another example of copying genius, I’m pleased to announce that your Executive Board in March made a commitment to regularly send our representatives to the ADA Membership Recruitment and Retention Conference, to the ADA Lobbyist’s Conference, and to the Mid-States Leadership Conference.

I’ve had the opportunity this year to study what larger states are doing with membership initiatives.  One thing that I’ve seen is that the ADA is more likely to award grants to work on membership efforts to constituents and components that show that they are actively pursuing these efforts.  During the first weekend of April, at least seven representatives from the KDA and our local Societies will be attending the ADA Recruitment and Retention Conference in Chicago.  We will be learning what’s working best elsewhere, and we will also be sharing information on a couple of exciting meetings that were held in Louisville during our Annual Meeting.

Another two notable developments in our membership efforts are the development of mentorship programs for Kentucky dental students and new dentists.  The mentorship program for dental students is already active, and our membership committee will be developing the mentorship for new dentists very soon.  Please consider participating in one or both of these programs.

On Friday and Saturday, March 14th and 15th, we met with the national CEOs of Heartland Dental and Mortenson Dental, and also met with the state CEO of Aspen Dental.  Our goal is to get dentists that work for these larger group practices to join the KDA.  The dialogue at these two lunches was quite interesting and insightful.  And as our conversations with these dental service organizations (DSOs) progress, I am certain that Dr. Garth Bobrowski will keep you informed.

Your Executive Board has made commitments to continue working on two ADA initiatives that help position our profession in a positive light to the public and to our legislators.  Workgroups will continue helping improve access for dental care to residents of Long Term (Nursing Home) Care facilities and to help divert dental patients away from hospital Emergency Departments.  I want to extend a special thanks to Dr. Pam Stein who attended a one-half week symposium in Minnesota last fall on behalf of the KDA and who presented a lecture at our annual meeting to ____ dentists interested in expanding their practices in the area of Long Term Care residents.  I also want to thank Dr. Sue Feeley for chairing the workgroup on Emergency Room Initiatives.  This ER Divergence workgroup is already making positive inroads at helping solve a serious waste of taxpayer money in emergency rooms.  Please watch in coming months for interesting developments on this project.

In closing, I want to offer some specific thanks.  I want to thank my team, Alicia Hurst, Cathy Miller, Victoria Gallenstein, Devin Doyle and Dalton Tune.  I know everyone reading this knows they have had to put up with many interruptions during my term as your President.  They have been fabulously supportive and understanding, and I owe them and will show them my eternal gratitude.  I must also thank a close friend, a dentist in Southern California that I met 18 months ago that has helped me tremendously in allowing me to bounce off ideas and brainstorm.  Thank you, Dr. Anette Masters, for your continued encouragement.

I cannot begin to express my thanks enough to our KDA Staff.  I’ve really put them through a lot this year.  If they are honest with you, they’ll admit that I’m kind of like dealing with the Energizer Bunny that never stops.  So, Janet, Todd, Melissa, thank you so much for always being there for me.  I especially want to extend my best wishes to our retiring Executive Director, Mr. Mike Porter.  We appreciate the many years that Mike has led us and for all of the things we accomplished during his 21 years at the helm. 

Thanks are also extended to Dr. Terry Norris, our Immediate Past President, Dr. John Creech who first involved me in our leadership as Executive Board Chair four years ago, and our existing Executive Committee including Dr. Garth Bobrowski, Dr. Dennis Price, Dr. Ted Logan and Dr. Fred Howard.  These men have worked tirelessly for your association and have never said no when I’ve made a request.  Thank you, gentlemen.

As we move forward, I know we will accomplish great things if we are only willing to keep our eyes wide open to the many possibilities that are available to us.  And as I end my year as your President, my challenge to each of you is this:  In your personal lives, with your families, and with your profession, dare to CREATE your realities.  Dare to dream.

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