Every dentist reading these words right now is in the middle of a great war.
I don’t mean a war against disease. Yes, we fight the maladies of the mouth on a daily basis with great success. That is not our great war.
I also don’t mean our political battles. Yes, we rally against mid-level providers and mall whitening. We search for better ways to deliver care to our patients. Politics is also not our great war.
Our great war is against apathy.
I have been fortunate to travel the Unites States for the past few years on the lecture circuit. I’ve met many of you out there and enjoyed sharing stories about clinical dentistry and practice management (usually over a drink at the hotel bar after the lecture). So far this year we’ve seen each other in Boston, Colorado, Kansas City, upstate New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, New Jersey, New York City, Chicago, and Montana.
So here’s what I’ve learned in my conversations with you: dentists have much more in common than they realize. Practice models and dynamics in Montana can be very different than those in Chicago, but that doesn’t really matter. What is important is that the fundamentals of how we practice are identical. We all get aggravated by the same challenges and inspired by the same victories.
And we all are fighting the same great war. The single most dangerous enemy to our profession is apathy. If we are going to preserve and enhance (1) the way we practice, and (2) the sacredness of our doctor-patient relationship, then we have to get more involved in organized dentistry. It’s as simple as that.
Wouldn’t it be nice to experience a new Golden Age of Dentistry? Talk to any of our colleagues who practiced in the 80’s and 90’s and they’ll let you know how good it used to be. We can regain that momentum again for our generation. But the only way it will happen is if we roll up our sleeves and get to work.
If you’re not a member of the American Dental Association, please join now. If you are a member but haven’t been active, I urge you to attend your local general membership meetings. You certainly don’t have to become the political leader who storms Capitol Hill to fight for dentistry. But simply attending meetings brings you into the Great Conversation. You’ll be able to share your opinions about the controversial issues we face. Those opinions will give focus to the political leaders who do enjoy storming Capitol Hill on your behalf.
Another place to start is attending the New Dentist Conference on July 18th-20th in Denver. Register here to see old friends and meet new ones. You’ll get great CE and a chance to meet the ADA President, Executive Director, and Board of Trustees.
Let’s not be the generation who lost interest in defending and advancing the profession. Fight apathy. Be a proud and outspoken member of your profession. I promise you’ll have some fun along the way.