For Immediate Release
Date: Dec 20th, 2016
Contact: Dr. Bill Collins
Membership is the Key to Our Future and the Responsibility of All: Our Own Members are Our Best Recruitment Tool
Greetings to all from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Since my last article, many things have come to pass. The Kentucky delegation arrived safely in Denver for the annual ADA meeting and many of us experienced the effects of the “mile high city”. While walking the 16th Street Mall, we saw the “zombie crawl” unfolding and the odor of legal cannabis was in the air. It gave a new meaning to the description “mile high city”.
While in Denver, I was afforded the privilege of hearing several great speakers. Some of the speakers told of personal experiences and how their lives had changed drastically without notice. They spoke of organizational structures and the importance of strong leadership. They spoke of not destroying what previous leaders had accomplished, but to build and change only things that are not functioning as planned. Do not create division and animosity, but create unity and lead with integrity. We must prepare an organization that is strong and can be passed on to the next generation without reservation.
I began to realize that organized dentistry membership is not open to just anyone; we are members by invitation only. We have dues, by-laws and a constitution that governs who may become a member and how that membership may be revoked. When I graduated and started to practice, I was directed by my mentor to become a member of the Kentucky Dental Association and was expected to accompany him to meetings. I am a typical “baby boomer” and have a military background, so I follow directions without question. Today’s millennials are much different than my generation; they want to be involved, now. They ask questions and expect real answers. It is for this reason that we must have an organization that shows strength and unity. We must show why we are relevant to their daily lives and we must allow them participation. We can no longer say, “Wait your turn as have those before you.” What are the real benefits of belonging to our organization? What will be your answers to their questions? Please don’t say, “If you have to ask, you don’t need to be a member.” We need younger members and their ideas. We need their participation. But, most of all, we need them to lead us into the future, for without them our association will not continue to grow and prosper. We must reach out to them - INVITE them to become members and we must do this in a personal and sincere manner. I challenge all of our members to reach out, personally, to those who have allowed their membership to lapse, to new graduates, to those who have never been a member and to dental students as they complete their education. Tell them we need them to become an active part of organized dentistry. Tell them why it is to their benefit to become a member and what we offer as an association. Explain, in detail, the importance of fellowship, the guidance our organization can provide, and the need for them to become the leaders of tomorrow. Teach them of our commitment to the future of oral health and the importance of community engagement. If each of you engage one non-member and gain their membership, in two to three years our numbers will be fully restored.
We are currently burdened with many oral health problems. Our solutions lie in the next generation of leaders, so we must build them a solid platform on which to work. Each of us must become a mentor and an educator. We must provide direction and give sincere fellowship to our new colleagues. They are NOT our competitors, but our peers and they are most definitely our FUTURE. As you go forth in your societies, reach out to non-members; display our code of ethics; explain to them the importance of the future of organized dentistry; show them the problems on the horizon and ask for their input and not just their dues.
Making Smiles Happen: 2016 Oral Health Study of Kentucky's Youth was co-released by Delta Dental of Kentucky and Kentucky Youth Advocates at the recent Interim Health and Welfare Committee hearing in Frankfort, Kentucky. This is the first oral health surveillance of Kentucky’s children since 2001. When you review this release, do so with an open mind. Kentucky is a large state and there is a vast difference in rural and urban oral health problems. We must realize that we need partners in our quest for solutions. There are other voices in the political arena and they are being heard, whether we approve or not. We must reach out to our hygiene colleagues and solicit other members from the healthcare arena; we need individuals outside the profession to carry our message to the population and our legislators. Many view the Public Health Hygienist as competition, but instead, we should be viewing them as a referring source. We must build internal bridges to external sources, and those sources must become willing partners. We must end the negativity and view the future in a positive light.
I am asking…no, I am pleading with all our members to become unified, to extend fellowship, show leadership, integrity and esprit de corps! Foster an atmosphere of collaboration to address our oral health needs and provide an environment that supports our vision of oral health. Recognize and promote respect for our peers. View them, not as competitors, but as our future. We are the guardians of our association’s dignity and integrity. Someday, there will be a changing of the guard and they must be prepared to take our organization into the future.
What problems do we currently face? The answers are overwhelming and I will only list a few: Medicaid, commercial insurance, the growth of managed care, the declining private practice, student loan repayment, increased oral health problems, declining membership, fellowship, politics and the list goes on and on.
The answers lie within our profession, within our partners, our patients and within our association. We must remain positive, create lasting relationships, bring back and preserve the fellowship that was taught to us. I am so excited the Galt House will be the site of the 2019 meeting! We need to mark this as our “homecoming” and procure a special speaker for the occasion!
I want to thank all those who have supported me as president; I do not take the position lightly. I recognize the need to surround myself with informed leaders of oral health and I realize I must build on what Dr. Bobrowski and Dr. Price created before me. I want to make this organization stronger for Dr. Depp and Dr. Lee to carry into the coming years. I also acknowledge the need for partners and new members as we envision the future of oral health. Franklin Roosevelt once said,
“In our personal ambitions, we are individualists. But, in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up or else all go down as one people.” Our association is no different. We are individuals, but our future will rely on our ability to grow in membership and provide answers to those who ask.
I thank Dr. Fred Howard for nominating me for the International College of Dentists, Dr. Lee Mayer for nominating me for the American College of Dentists and Dr. Terry Norris for his insight and support into the American College of Dentists. I want to thank all the Kentucky delegates and alternate delegates for their participation at the annual ADA meeting in Denver. Thanks to our Executive Director for putting up with my mountain humor and providing me with his guidance. I thank Dr. Depp and Dr. Lee, as I rely heavily on their advice and value their input in decision-making. I thank the Kentucky Mountain Society for the confidence they have bestowed in me and Dr. Hancock-Jones and Mahak Kalra for positive communication from the Kentucky Oral Health Coalition. Last, I want to thank all of our members for allowing me the privilege to serve. I sincerely hope I have not missed anyone.
As Dr. Ted Logan slips into retirement, we all should thank him for his many years of service and dedication to our great association. Dr. Logan’s experience, leadership, integrity, dedication and loyalty will be greatly missed. I wish him the best as he begins writing his future chapters of life. I thank Dr. Mike Johnson for his willingness to become the interim secretary/treasurer. I appreciate and thank Dr. Sharon Turner for accepting the appointment of interim PAC chairperson. I feel all the stars are aligning in the correct order for us to become successful in the future.
I welcome Dean Bradley as he takes the helm at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry; I appreciate him taking the time to venture to Redbird Mission and to provide insight to many oral health issues. I am sure the School of Dentistry will move forward in a positive direction. I also wish Dean Kyrkanides at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry continued success as he leads them into changing times.
In summary, we must realize our association is dynamic and not static. We are faced with many problems as we move forward. We can no longer ignore them in hopes they will solve themselves or simply go away. As individuals, we must unify and become one. We must go forward as a team and work together to build a stable foundation for our future leaders. Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. He said, “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." Many of us are good at becoming the thunder, but hesitate to become the lightning. We need everyone working towards growth and stability as we move forward. We need our members to become the lightning.
I will leave you with this old mountain story:
Large families were common in the mountains 75 or 80 years ago, even 50 years ago, but this story is about a fellow who had a family that was large even by mountain standards. We have been told he had twenty sons. (Whether or not they were all by the same wife, we aren’t sure.) According to the story, sometime around the turn of the century, he loaded them all up on the old passenger train deep in the heart of the mountains and took himself and all twenty boys to the great city for the county fair and stock markets. When they got there, of course, they toured the whole fair and saw everything there was to see. One of those things was a big, prize bull on exhibit. Naturally, they wanted to see it, so the father walked up to the ticket taker and says, “I’d like to have twenty-one tickets for me and my boys.” The man selling the tickets said, “Wait just a minute. Mister, are you telling me that all twenty of those boys are your sons?” The old fellow said, “Yes sir, they sure are.” The ticket man just stood there looking at him for a moment and said, “Mister, you don’t owe us a thing! Go right on in and stand real close and directly in front. I want that bull to get a look at you!
Other organizations, including many oral health coalitions, are growing their membership by leaps and bounds. Just as the ticket taker and the bull, we must “get a look” at their success. As we grow, it is important to realize that membership is the key to our future and the responsibility of all. Our own members are our best recruitment tool, so they must believe in their organization just as they believe in themselves. We can charge the staff with providing the tools of membership, but we must participate in delivering the message. Please invite everyone to your society meetings, invite non-members to join our ranks, show them the importance of organized dentistry and most of all, let them know their voices are imperative to the future of oral health. We must lead by example and provide positive reinforcement for answers and solutions. Thank all of you for making a commitment to the future of this association.