It’s an honor and a privilege to be the incoming President of the AAOP, particularly at this time in the history of our organization. Achieving specialty is an enormous achievement, and we all clearly owe a great deal to the many individuals, some of whom are in this room today, who volunteered their time and energy to make it a reality. We are all indebted to you and offer our gratitude for your efforts. As we progress from this point our mission and strategic plan remain the same, but our intent must be different. Our energy must not be only about promoting the evidence-based knowledge of orofacial pain, but also for advocating to improve the access-to-care for patients, for the ability to practice orofacial pain as a specialist, for appropriate reimbursement for our services and equal recognition of our specialty, to increase the number of future specialists who enroll in the academic programs, and primarily to increase the recognition both professionally and publicly of the specialty of orofacial pain.
These are lofty goals, but each of them is crucial in order for us to progress as a specialty organization.
The ability to achieve them is dependent on each of us contributing in some way every day, whether it is one-on-one with a patient or a colleague, at a dental meeting, giving a lecture, writing letters to state boards or congressmen, and generally advocating for our field. The AAOP is an organization run by volunteers, and we are not individuals in this regard, but rather greater as a group that functions with common goals. I encourage each of you to find a way to give of your time and energy and contribute to our specialty, whether it is serving on AAOP committees and councils, in your local dental organizations, or just in your own offices. We are all here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life. Being involved in the AAOP allows you to make a difference, to increase your professional network, and to have input in the direction we take. In the words of Sir William Osler, “The very first step towards success in any occupation, is to become interested in it”. Your education is what enabled you to be in a position to contribute to your chosen profession, and the best way to become interested in that is to volunteer your time and passion for the field.
Our goals for the coming year are primarily to focus on increasing recognition of the specialty in any way possible, and to significantly increase our online educational offerings for both the public and professionals. This can only happen through contributions from all members. Thus we look forward to collaborating with affiliate members whose contributions are so valuable, and with the academic programs and their residents and faculties, without whom the future of our specialty would be much more difficult.
We should all be excited as we continue down the road that has opened up to us with achieving specialty
As we look ahead we must all focus on creating an Academy that benefits and advocates for our field and the patients we are fortunate to treat. Maintaining a community based on integrity, professionalism, advocacy, and collegiality is the basis of achieving that. We should all be excited as we continue down the road that has opened up to us with achieving specialty, and fortunate to have such a capable and motivated group to carry us forward.