May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


Leaders Don’t Change their Environment, They Respond to a Changing Environment

May 2013 Volume XLVIX Number 3

Everyone will say they are happy to change, as long as the changes do not affect them. We often fear change; perhaps because it takes us out of our comfort zone; or maybe theres a risk that what I love to do will be gone; or perhaps it is an indication that what I have done is not the right thing. These and other reasons are some of the common things heard regarding proposals to change anything.

When we look at the great successes of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, they are as great as they have been for a simple reason: we have been leaders in recognizing environmental forces requiring us to change. Our market share of approximately 95 percent of pediatric dentists is outstanding. Obviously our members value what we do. Yet even this must be continually scrutinized; we must continually assess a changing environment and look at everything about the profession of pediatric dentistry, the care of children and their oral health, and the multitude of ever-changing environmental influences might affect the great care we provide for children. As a good example, we know the AAPD has a tremendous advocacy infrastructure. As I write this, we are preparing to embark upon a week in Washington, D.C., where more than 100 of our members will talk to congressional leaders and others to ask for their continued support of programs that improve childrens oral health. Each year, as we prepare for our days in the District, we examine the environmental forces, the changing conditions that influence the practice of dentistry, and specifically pediatric dentistry, and we make our recommendations as to what we will ask Congress in that specific year.

The board of trustees continually is fed with information on an ever-changing environment. If we were to dig in, and say "no way we could change anything" or "that trend is just a flash in the pan," we would have great challenges is sustaining our leadership position.

Take a look at whats going on out there. The growth of large group practices is not a flash in the pan, but is a (exponentially growing) trend; a reality we must take a look at and determine how it influences the care of children and their oral health and how we support our members and providing the best care. Technology is also something we must be everresponsive to. The explosive growth of various technologies from office management systems to caries detection tools, as well as how restorative dentistry will occur will dramatically change and how we practice. These changes are there and we must monitor and we must respond to them.


Our leaders must continually scrutinize the environment and scan what is changing and what is not, and must make decisions as to how we will respond in order to strengthen our membership, to strengthen our support for the oral health of children, and better enable us to be the best practitioners we possibly can be.

Theres no reason to fear change; we should fear not changing not recognizing and responding to changes in the environment will hold us back; will put us in the position of an organization that does not succeed (unlike ourselves); and will always put us in a catch-up position as opposed to the active position we want to remain in.

These are the leadership traits that have made us great. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry must recognize and take the appropriate measures in response to a changing environment. Doing so in an ever more careful and thoughtful manner will continue to place us at the top of organizations which advocate for improved health.

We must continue to look at the needs of academic institutions and not ignore our great concern regarding filling academic positions in pediatric dentistry with the best people at all levels. We must not look at the realities the data show us in terms of vacancies, in terms of trends in academic vacancies at all levels. We must take steps to support our academic community in the best way we can to improve the quality of our teaching community, and to perpetuate the growth of excellent leaders for the future and our specialty.

There are so many reasons we must observe and respond. I’m so very proud to have been president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry during this year. I look forward to continued growth of the wonderful organization by supporting our members across the country and around the globe. I deeply admire and appreciate our wonderful staff and our volunteer leaders, who each day take a look at whats out there, and recognize where we must change to continue to be the best.