Pennsylvania Dental Journal March April 2017 - Page 7

I m p ressio n s Under the Big Top by Dr. Stephen T. Radack III, Editor Millions of people have experienced the magic of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Generation after generation, the show brought families together for a grand spectacle – with everything under one big tent, The Big Top. Under the Big Top was where everyone wanted to be. Right here we have a “big top” of our own. If you are a dentist practicing in 2017, whether you are young or old, a generalist or specialist, are heavily in debt or are above the red line in your net worth, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) and American Dental Association (ADA) are the places you need to be, should be and want to be. This is a unique edition of your Pennsylvania Dental Journal, as it is not only being sent to all of our loyal members, but also to all of the current non-members who are licensed dentists in Pennsylvania. To all, we welcome you and hope you take the time to read this edition and see what we do for you and your patients. Even if you already are a member and have been for a long time, we hope that you learn something new in this issue, perhaps about a benefit or a program created for you as someone we value under the “big top” of PDA. Please pay special attention to the “pull out section,” where we have attempted to summarize some of the many benefits of belonging to the tripartite. Please also be sure to read the articles authored by our younger colleagues. One is from the current chair of our Membership Committee, another from our associate editor and the third is from the chair of the ADA New Dentist Committee. I found each of these enlightening and informative, and appreciated the valuable perspective of someone who is early in their career. As you may have already gathered, my big top (aka tent) is the tripartite – ADA, PDA and your local component dental society. I believe that there is only one organization that works for every dentist, regardless of specialty, every day. Over the last several years we have seen members drift away from the big tent of the tripartite (as some of the specialty organizations no longer require ADA membership as a prerequisite to join their groups) and branch off into the smaller tents with what they might believe to be more like minded colleagues. Granted, those groups may speak directly to the specific needs of your specialty, whether it be the American Association of Orthodontists, America Association of Endodontists, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology or the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), but they are not speaking that ONE unifying voice to represent the entire profession. I know we have all heard it before, but do we really need to be reminded what has happened to our physician colleagues over the last several years? The American Medical Association has only a 20+ percent market share of members, and once an association membership slips below the 50 percent market share level, can it really speak to our legislators as the voice of the profession any longer? I think we all realize the answer is obviously, no. I have spoken with many younger colleagues over the last several years, during my time as your PDA president, attending PDA outreach events, at ADA Membership Recruitment and Retention Conferences and teaching at the LECOM School of Dental Medicine, and know that we must do a better job showing them the value of belonging early and often. I know some of the other groups could be trying to the same thing as well, at least the one I am a member of (AGD). Could it really be as simple as making sure people feel welcome when they come to a local dental meeting or event? How many of us felt like an outsider at that first one we attended? Or second? Or even third? Maybe we don’t have a second or third chance and their first impression of our association may be the only one that counts. I know my experience all those years ago was an awesome one and one of the reasons why my best friends are the ones I met under the big top. I think we should all keep this in mind the next time a new face walks into one of our meetings. As you will see later, there are many, many benefits to belonging to the ADA/PDA/Component and I will not go into that detail now, but paraphrasing from the letter I just received from the ADA with my new membership card really hits the highlights that I want to kick off this issue with. “We’re glad you’ve made the decision to be a member this year! Together with your state and local dental societies, membership provides you with all the support you need at every step of your career-whether you’re new to practice or are nearing retirement. ADA-Receive support throughout your career and stay connected to an unparalleled collection of world-class resources. From career tools and continuin g education to scientific news and information, networking opportunities and a voice in Washington, DC, ADA is what “making a difference” is all about. MARCH / AP RIL 2017 | P EN N SYLVAN IA DEN TAL JOURNAL 5