I am not comfortable being comfortable.
It has been said that change is the only constant in life. Yet often, when we are faced with opportunities which may improve upon long-standing practices, we hesitate to embrace the new. Is our comfort in the status quo so familiar and so satisfying that to venture away from it is frightening? In early November, I attended the American Dental Association meeting in New Orleans. One of the buzzwords was change and how as a national organization we must embrace changes on the horizon. President Clinton talked about change in his keynote address. The three ADA president-elect candidates talked about it. The ADA vice-presidential candidates talked about it, and finally Kathy O’Loughlin, ADA Executive Director, talked about change and how as an association we must be positioned to change if we are going to respond to the forces that are affecting our profession.
Over the last two years, many resolutions have come before the ADA House of Delegates seeking to change the status quo. Many resolutions sought to make considerable changes to the underlying organizational structure of the ADA with the sole intention of achieving effi ciencies in governance processes. Countless resources, both fi nancial and human, were spent to review operations within the ADA. So how did the ADA House of Delegates respond to the call for change? They did nothing to change, and the status quo prevailed. Not a single recommendation on improving governance passed the House. Not one new and exciting and transformational idea was to be found. And while I have tremendous respect for all the ADA candidates, not a single new or innovative approach was bantered about to prepare for the changing landscape which undoubtedly will impact the profession of dentistry in the years to come. Perhaps many things would not have changed, but I, along with many of my colleagues, were thirsty for inspirational, passionate, and progressive ideas that would drive me to shout “YES”.
In the end, the ADA House of Delegates was comfortable being comfortable. I am not! I know there is change coming for our profession, and sitting idly by is not an option. To that end, the MDA has and continues to seek ways in which we can affect change locally as well as nationally. Our dedicated Board of Trustees and staff, along with committed members of the MDA committees, work to ensure the profession is provided with resources to advance professionally. Most recently the MDA has been vocal on regulatory issues, penning letters urging remedies to potentially burdensome and overreaching regulations. We have issued two very in-depth informational brief sheets on the Affordable Care Act, the state-based health exchange (MNSure), and the Pediatric Dental Benefi t Mandate. Much of this information is regularly shared via our bi-weekly electronic newsletter and our website. And as this shortened legislative session gears up, rest assured that the MDA is present and engaged on a variety of fronts. I do not purport to have all the answers, but the one thing I do have is a desire and a passion to work toward ensuring organized dentistry remains relevant. Let’s not fear the change because we are comfortable. Let’s not be afraid to make and or embrace changes. Remember, if you do not embrace change, it will change you. I promise that throughout the year I will remind our membership that I am “not comfortable being comfortable” and that we need to embrace change and use it to direct a way to better our profession.
*Dr. Perpich is the 2013-2014 president of the Minnesota Dental Association. He is a general dentist practicing in St. Louis Park and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org