With the Accent on "Do"

With the Accent on "Do"

James K. Zenk, D.D.S.*:
I liked the opening of Dr. Mike Flynn’s President’s Report in the last issue of Northwest Dentistry, stating our MDA mission statement with the overriding question: “Why do we exist?” It seemed important to follow this information with the Mission and Vision Statements and Goals of the American Dental Association. 
 
ADA Mission Statement: The ADA is the professional association of dentists that fosters the success of a diverse membership and advances the oral health of the public. 
 
ADA Vision Statement: To be the recognized leader of oral health. 
 
ADA Goals: 2011-2014
1. Provide support to dentists so they may succeed and excel throughout their careers.
2. Be the trusted resource for oral health information that will help people be good stewards of their own oral health.
3. Improve public health outcomes through a strong collaborative profession and through effective collaboration across the spectrum of our external stakeholders.
4. Ensure that the ADA is a financially stable organization that provides appropriate resources to enable operational and strategic initiatives.
 
You Are Here – and You’re Not Alone
I just returned from our December ADA Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, where considerable time was spent discussing and confirming our goals, mission, vision, and core values. 
 
Many productive hours of strategic planning with the BOT, House of Delegates (HOD) committee members, and ADA staff members, with the aid of a professional facilitator, helped  us look in the mirror to discover and summarize our core values.
“Why do we exist?”
We had in-depth conversations about who is our customer, who are our other stakeholders, and what does each need and want from us. A work group evolved from this meeting to take all the ideas presented and formulate a succinct, presentable, and recognizable set of core values. From this brainstorming and development of our core values, a new  strategic plan can be formulated that will take us into the next decade.
 
When planning for the future, you need correct data. We need to scan our present environment and look at dental utilization rates, insurance coverage, consumer views on dental  care, the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, and how all of this should shape our future action.  It is important to continue to update our goals, as all our energy and the expenses of ongoing and new projects need to relate and refer back to the goals and mission of the association - which ultimately exists for our members.
 
Our ADA Executive Director, Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, has continued to reinforce that our number one goal for 2013 is member value. In surveying our membership, we have found  that the number one reason dentists join the ADA is Advocacy — yes, with a capital “A”. We need to take charge and move the needle on oral health by continuing to have a  strong presence and voice, at both the U.S. Capitol and the Minnesota Capitol, with the message of improving global oral health. Please respond to the “Call for Action” memoranda and emails that come from the ADA and MDA. Become a grassroot dentist and develop a relationship with your local, state, and federal representatives and senators. I  challenge everyone to attend the MDA Dental Day at the Capitol Wednesday, February 27, 2013. 
 
The Center for Practice Success
A new key initiative to improve member value in the ADA is being introduced in 2013. This is known as the Center for Practice Success (CPS). This online program will help dentists be successful on the business side of their practices. I am excited about this new program. Our next generation of dentists will be able to look to the ADA for professional business programs, advice, and skills. Dental schools are hard pressed to teach all the dental skills they can in four years. Business courses are not a priority in the dental school  curriculum. My generation had to learn their business sense from classmates, friends, parents, consultants, weekend courses, and trial and error. Watch for the big roll-out of CPS  this spring. 
 
New Multimedia Campaign
The American Dental Association is a member of the Ad Council, which has brought 37 different member partners together to present a multimedia campaign of improving oral  health called “Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives”. Check out the partnership’s website at www.2min2x.org to see the two-minute “Brushing X 2 (twice) a Day” campaign. You will see and hear a number of public service announcements, posters, checklists, and videos on the importance of oral health. The core of this campaign is the collection of two-minute  videos, which will be expanded to billboards and a Twitter rollout this spring. This follows a successful ADA campaign called “Zombie Mouth” that focused on better oral health  during the past Halloween season. 
 
Diversity and Organized Dentistry
At the December meeting, the BOT spent a considerable amount of time discussing the need for increased diversity in our association. The ADA has a Diversity Committee of 12 members, which will be expanding to 20 members in 2013. This committee oversees the ADA Diversity Institute. Their purpose is to bring our members of color together to develop and carry out individual projects to improve oral health and increase membership in the ADA. Our world is ever-changing, and we need to reach out to be inclusive for all dentists,  to make them feel like they need the ADA and want to belong. Every dentist needs to see value in his or her membership.
 
On to 2013
As we begin a new year together, we have much to be thankful for. We have all been blessed. We are dentists, members of a profession that has given us special relationships with our patients and the ability and opportunity to help, heal, and improve the oral health of the world. Continue giving — we have done so much to improve our world through 
all our work, volunteerism, and gifts of time, talents, and money. Continue to participate and volunteer as you can in Give Kids a Smile, Donated Dental Services, Mission of Mercy, Dental Lifeline, Union Gospel Mission, Caring and Sharing Hands, community clinics. The list goes on; the need will be there forever. Continue to send your gifts to the ADA and  MDA foundations. Our funds will be multiplied by thousands over time to bring help to many.
 
Happy New Year, and have a fabulous 2013
 
 
*Dr. Zenk is the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American Dental Association, representing Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. He is a general  dentist in Montevideo, Minnesota. Email is zenkj@ada.org.