May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3

 
 
 
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Called to Serve: AAPD President Dr. Joel H. Berg Looks Back on His Term

May 2013 Volume XLVIX Number 3

As AAPD President Dr. Joel H. Bergs term comes to an end, we discussed his experience as president, strengths of the AAPD, innovations in the field of pediatric dentistry, as well as milestones of which hes particularly proud. Given his position as dean of the University of Washingtons School of Dentistry, we also touched on how policy affected his role as president and if that would have an impact on him continuing to oversee his dental school, in addition to other topics.

 


Heres what Berg had to say about his year in review:

 

When assuming the role as president, you made it very clear that your agenda would focus on AAPD talent pool development and international collaborations. Do you feel that this has been accomplished? Please explain in detail.

 

The idea of creating a talent pool committee or task force was initiated based upon a need. This year, our goal was to begin the process of creating the task force and to convene the group. As a result, this was accomplished as planned. The task force, chaired by Drs. Charles S. Czerepak and Rebecca L. Slayton, met with the Executive Committee over a January weekend in Chicago. That day, the main agenda of the task force was identified, which included the following action items:

 

Identify the areas for which talent is needed for the AAPD

Demonstrate ways in which talent may be needed in the future

Create a tracking method to identify, develop and nurture talent

Creating new talent for the AAPD is one of the most important functions of our organization going forward. We continue to develop good leaders through the current self-selection method, however, this may not be sustainable in the future as the needs of the organization continue to grow and become more sophisticated. It is also possible that many of the individuals who would be best suited to perform various activities for the AAPD will not be those who self-identify, but rather, those who must be sought after based on careful analysis of our membership.


We also initiated the global task force. This group, as with the talent pool management task force, began in earnest in January. The group held a meeting convened by its chair Dr. Amr M. Moursi. He and his team identified the ways in which the AAPD should be working with global partners. This will include the possibility of teaming up in exchanging science, sharing agendas for scientific programs so that speakers may cross boundaries and speak to different venues, as well as improving relationships between organizations and enhancing membership.

 

These two task forces, along with the project management task force, are all well underway. Well hear preliminary reports on all three groups during our Annual Session in Orlando. I’m excited about the great work that will be undertaken by these taskforces which will lead to improvement and sophistication of our already well-managed organization.

 

Do you think in our country today that there exists a two-tiered standard of care for our nations most vulnerable children? If so, please elaborate.

 

I don’t believe there is a two-tiered standard of care for our nations most vulnerable children. There is only one standard of care: the one that was established by the best practices of pediatric dental specialists, and as specified by the policies and guidelines of the Academy. Unfortunately, without continuing to improve access to the best dental health care as identified by the Academy, some children do not have adequate access to dental care, or may receive care that is substandard. This could be argued to de facto as a two-tiered standard of care; however, it is our intention to advocate and do whatever we can at the federal and state levels, to ensure that all children receive optimal dental care. The issue of providers, and how they are supervised, is also an important element of the standard of care. If all children do not have access to a qualified dentist who can provide their care, it is distinctly possible that care will be delivered at different levels. We need to do all that we can to ensure this is not the case, as one of the most important missions of our Academy is to improve the health for all children.

 

How would you describe your experience as president of the AAPD?

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as president of the AAPD. The several years prior to my presidency, serving on the executive committee in several different positions, and prior to that as District VI trustee, prepared me well for what the work was to be during this year. Over the past decades, the AAPD has become exceptionally streamlined in its function. The central office, headed by our outstanding CEO DrJohn Rutkauskas, runs extremely turnkey in all manners and is managed seamlessly. The role of the president has therefore evolved into one of representation of the AAPD at various regional and component organizations and at other dental organizational meetings. It is enlightening to see the quality of advocacy, clinical care, and the promotion of oral health for all children, and the attention to detail that is undertaken by our members at all levels throughout the country. Traveling around this year, Ive witnessed extraordinary effort on the part of so many people to improve oral health for children, and to advance the cause of the AAPD. So much is going on currently, that it is important that we continue to prioritize our work and develop a proactive agenda that maintains the pace of activity we currently have achieved.

 

Are there achievements or milestones of AAPD under your leadership that you’re particularly proud of ?

 

I’m proud of so many things that have happened over the last years, and in particular, during this past year. First, Id like to mention the creation of the task forces noted above. The work of these groups will not only create great things for the organization, but will most importantly, identify work ahead of time. I’m also proud of the achievements of the Advanced Leadership Institute, which is an extension of our original Leadership Institute that graduated its third cohort this past year. The Advanced Leadership Institute participants have created an agenda of items that will be recommended to the Board for consideration at this years Annual Session. This work, to be prioritized by the Executive Committee, will be a roadmap for our future that will allow the organization to sustain itself as the recognized voice of dentistry for children. I’m exceptionally proud of the efforts by countless people that worked so hard over the last year to achieve all that weve accomplished.

 

What according to you are strengths of AAPD?

 

The AAPD is strong in many ways. We have an outstanding leadership team. This begins with our central office and extends to our volunteer leadership. Each year our leaders rise to the occasion and do exactly that work which is needed for the AAPD to maintain its greatness. We have the best cause of any specialty, in that we advocate for improved oral health for all children. We are not primarily about a specific condition, but rather about better health for a childs lifetime. We are the only specialty of dentistry that treats a population and not a condition. We therefore are advocates for dentistry as a whole, and in particular, for the most vulnerable patients the children we treat and patients with special health care needs.

 

The organization is also in great financial condition thanks to our central office team and our volunteer leaders. We continue to maintain a reserve of one years annual budget which is the envy of other specialty organizations. Our Foundation is stronger than ever. When I served as President of the Foundation from 2001-2006, we dreamed of taking the organization from the $2 million level to the then $7 million aspirational goal. Today, there is nearly $13 million in the coffers. And, we are funding access to care grants that are helping many children in our raising awareness of the great things the Foundation does. This in itself will grow the Foundation, which I hope in the next few years will get to its (once thought to be a lofty) goal of $20 million.

 

Are there particular innovations in the field of pediatric dentistry that you’re excited about? How would you recommend addressing the faculty shortage issue?

 

I’m extremely excited about all types of innovations and technologies that are being introduced to dentistry as a whole, and most especially, to pediatric dentistry. The greatest innovation is in the area of caries management. Dental caries, the most prevalent disease in humans, accounts for about 70 percent of the approximately $110 billion spent on dentistry in the United States each year. Over the last several years, we have seen a steady and perhaps exponential growth of technologies that will soon allow us to identify the disease in its manifested form much earlier than we are currently able to detect it. This will allow medicinal therapeutic interventions for the treatment of small caries lesions, which today are not identifiable, and must be treated with restorative dental techniques. This will change dentistry in a broad sweeping fashion that was only theorized in the past. I am happy to be personally working with some experts in the Photonics field who are creating a device that can be inserted interproximally, and that might be able to detect caries lesions at a stage when medicinal therapeutics would be effective for their treatment.

Regarding the faculty shortage question, this is a complex subject. The Academy plays a very important role in management of this problem. The team on talent pool development as discussed above will go a long way in identifying, nurturing and supporting young faculty members in the future. I believe we have made improvements. Hearing

from my colleagues and from what my own personal experience suggests, there is most definitely an adequate supply of desirous junior faculty to enter into the marketplace at the junior faculty level. A more significant problem is identifying talent at the midcareer and senior faculty level.


This work, to be prioritized by the Executive Committee, will be a roadmap for our future that will allow the organization to sustain itself as the recognized voice of dentistry for children.

When programs need new program directors, chairs or other administrative leaders, theres a great challenge in attracting folks to leave their current positions and transfer to another role. We must continue to invoke all necessary measures to make sure there is an adequate supply of talented faculty in the present and the future. This is one of the most exceptionally important needs for the Academy—to sustain the growth from which we currently benefit.

 

Access to care is an issue thats important for all members, but in your opinion, do you think that parents and caregivers are truly grasping this message about getting it done in year one and establishing a Dental Home? Do you think that our Ad Council campaign is resonating with the lay public? If so, please share how.

 

Access to care is an important issue and it is indeed top of mind for our members. As suggested, I do not think this important message

is getting out there to the extent we would like. The message of a Dental Home for all children, although exceptionally important in our minds as members, is not resonating with the consumer to the degree we would prefer. The Ad Council campaign should make a big difference. This first-of-its-kind campaign is at the earliest stages, and we are excited about realizing the effects it will have and the great benefits that are to be expected. Experts have spent considerable time developing the messages which will be disseminated over the next several years. I expect that the level of awareness sustained as a top of mind effort in our parents and caregivers regarding the importance of oral health in their childs overall health will

be grown by virtue of this campaign, and the continued efforts of the Academy.

 

How will the health care reform law impact pediatric dentistry?

 

We really don’t know how the Affordable Care Act will affect pediatric dentistry. There are many ways in which it potentially could have an impact. Most importantly, it could affect the care children receive. We want to make sure that access to care has not deteriorated, but is improved by virtue of the

Affordable Care Act. We must pay attention to the important policies and guidelines and messages that are created by the Academy and its policy and research center. Without specifically


knowing the full impact potential of the Affordable Care Act, it is good to know that our central office and volunteer leadership, together with our advocates in Washington, D.C., and around the country, will do whatever we can to ensure that our nations children get the best oral health care they possibly can.

 

Have you learned anything about policy in your time as AAPD president that will affect the way you practice or oversee the University of Washington School of Dentistry?

 

I have learned much about policy and many other things that will indeed affect me in my "day job" as dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry. The process of creating policy, and also the process in creating guidelines as undertaken by the AAPD, is exceptionally sophisticated and is

a lesson to be learned by many. I will surely take the careful way in which these policies and guidelines are developed as an important methodological tool that I can use in my daily practice, together with my own management

team. This makes me realize the important leadership skills in general that are learned by virtue of traversing the leadership system of the AAPD. After five years of serving as president of the Foundation, and then serving as a trustee for another three years, followed by five years as an officer, I have honed many skills, and learned from many great leaders who have prepared me well for my role as president, and now for whatever task I may undertake in the future.

 

Looking ahead, what challenges do you foresee affecting the pediatric dentistry industry? How can AAPD and its members maintain their reputation and industry-leading position as the authority on childrens oral health?

 

There are many challenges facing the Academy going forward. The work of the Advanced Leadership Institute cohort and its recommendations presented to the board will allow us a means to prioritize efforts to uphold the reputation of the Academy, and in supporting its members in our collective effort as the recognized authority on childrens oral health. There may be confusion in the minds of consumers. Yet, there is only one American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. We are an academy of pediatric dentistry, although we represent members. Our members collectively represent the needs of children. This is something that distinguishes us from many organizations. We advocate through evidence and the identification of evidence, as well as an outspoken need to create it where it does not exist in order to achieve results.

 

I could not be prouder of the team of outstanding colleagues around which Ive had the great pleasure of working with over the past few decades. I look forward to continuing in my role as a proud AAPD member in whatever way I’m called to serve going forward.

 

I hope I can leave membership with the notion that each person has a lot to offer to the organization, and when asked to step forward and provide expertise, I hope everybody will in their own way, and provide the passion they bring to their practices every day to the organization so that we all most especially our patients may reap these benefits.