July 2017 Volume LII Number 4

 
 
 
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A Message from Your President

July 2017 Volume LII Number 4

On a Good Path to the Future

It’s a very exciting time to be a pediatric dentist. As you are likely aware, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Over the past 70 years, the face of our profession has changed dramatically in many ways. Looking at the current membership de- mographics of our 10,000 members, approximately 50 percent are female. This trend is likely to increase with time as 64 percent of the residents in our training programs are female. We are also newer to the profession – 51 percent of our members have been out of training programs for less than 10 years.

The AAPD remains the voice of the profession with approximately 94 percent of pediatric dentists choosing to be members of the AAPD. Assisting with overall membership growth, the AAPD chapter dues collection program has helped to strengthen membership in the districts and states nationwide.

Although we are on a good path, there are several challenges we must address in the coming future.

ACCESS TO CARE

At this time, no one is quite sure of the final status of either ACA reform or repeal and replace efforts. Likely they will involve some form of block grants to the states. Although this may open op- portunities to reform state Medicaid programs, for many this could drastically impact current funding levels.

The current system in many states is overburdened and under- funded. I am very familiar with this issue as Minnesota is currently 50th lowest out of 50 states for Medicaid pediatric dental reim- bursement. In our state, we are at a point where even the safety net clinics are in crisis. Numerous issues also exist with the current exchanges (limited number of options and high deductibles to name a few).

A significant number of our members provide Dental Homes for patients insured in the Medicaid program. The kids cannot rely solely on the generosity of our members to provide care when the reimbursement is less than their overhead costs. Borrowing a phrase from our medical colleagues, the first step in providing sustainable access to care is adequate reimbursement.

We need to make the system work for our most vulnerable kids and special health care needs patients.

The AAPD is continuing to support four key issues in the devel- oping legislation:

• Oral health coverage should be required for children.
• First dollar coverage should be available for preventative services.
• Separate dental deductible for embedded medical/dental plans.
• Reauthorization of the CHIP program.

SAFETY

The AAPD needs to own the issue of safety in a pediatric dental setting. We have had numerous issues this past year with sedation and waterlines. In response, the board has directed the following:

Safety Task Force – The safety task force was charged with examining the processes and culture of patient safety as they pertain to the practice of pediatric dentistry and to make recom- mendations to the AAPD as to initiatives the organization could implement to improve patient safety. The Task Force reported back to the board and was transitioned into a committee of the Policy Center. The focus of the committee will be to establish a foundation of safety in the Academy in all facets of our prac- tices. Like efforts in medicine, safety must be deeply ingrained in all that we do in our practices.

Continuing Education – The AAPD conducted a great webinar in combination with OSAP earlier this spring regarding waterline best practices for doctors and staff. We will continue to produce similar programming for our members to promote best practices in our offices.

Sedation Work Group – The Sedation Work Group is de- veloping and establishing a sedation data base to establish best practices. The work group’s efforts are currently in a pilot phase with several educational centers in the U.S.

With regards to sedation, the AAPD continues to monitor the potential changes to legislation in California and Texas. Whatever develops out of these legislative efforts could have a significant impact on the way we practice. We are supporting our members in those efforts to keep sedation and safe and effective tool in our prac- tices. We must continue to look at ways to improve our training and best practices to protect our most valuable assets – our patients.

KEEPING OUR PROFESSION STRONG


Our newest members have very high debt loads (average $280K post-dental school, even higher post-residency). These high debt loads are impacting our newer member’s practice choices and the ability of our long-term members to recruit new pediatric dentists and eventually the transition of their practices.

In response to this issue and from the efforts of the Millennial Task Force, the AAPD has moved forward with the following:

Debt Consolidation and Refinancing – The AAPD has established a member benefit with a consolidation and refinanc- ing company called SoFi. The program allows members to consolidate and refinance their debts for as low as 3.5 percent. So far in its first year of operation, SoFi has $25 million in refi’s funded for 121 of our members ($207K average). This benefit should give our newest members a little breathing room as they transition into their professional careers.

Finance 101 – With the high debt loads, the newer members of our profession are potentially one mistake away from disaster. We are looking at identifying some type of training for our newer members to give them the tools to make smart decisions regarding their financial futures.

Millennial Engagement – The Academy is looking at the different needs and learning styles of our newest members. In addition to providing world class programs for our long-term members, we are developing alternative CE formats (Educa- tion Passport, etc.). The Academy is also providing mentoring, leadership training and development to our newer members to keep them engaged.

Workforce Study – The AAPD conducted a workforce study years ago that identified that we needed more pediatric dentists. We have done a great job in increasing the number of training programs and training slots (increase of 250) with the title VII moneys resulting in the significant growth of our profession. The problem is there is no empirical data of where we should be now.

The AAPD recently contracted with an independent third party from SUNY-Albany to conduct a pediatric dental work force study. The goals of the study are to establish the ideal number of pediatric dentists and project our future needs to the year 2030. This information will direct, among other things, the Academy’s legislative and training efforts in the future. The group conduct- ing the study is surveying the AAPD’s active membership this summer and the results will be presented to the board in at the 2018 winter planning meeting.

Thank you for your membership and active involvement with our profession and Academy. Please free to contact me if I can ever be of help.

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