President's Letter

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Dear Fourth District Members,

I hope everyone had a great summer.  This fall I eagerly looked forward to the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam.  Some of us fought this war, some of our parents fought this war, some were conscientious objectors, but all of us remember this war.  However, it was an interview of jazz musician Wynton Marsalis by Ken Burns researching the film that I found most interesting.  “Sometimes a thing and the opposite of a thing are true at the same time.  Resist the desire to judge and decide, that is our work.”  Can this be true?
Do you stand with your hand over your heart for the national anthem?  Would you take a knee as a silent protest to injustice?  This summer continued as a tumultuous time in our country and internationally.   There are times when I feel we are polarized to the point where we are groups of people sharing a continent rather than a country.  Can competing and opposing views both be true?

Of course at some point we must make judgments and decide.  As dentists we do this hundreds of times per week.  Do we replace, repair, restore, or extract.  Is an implant the best choice or fixed prosthetics?  In addition we consider patient autonomy, the patient’s health, and financial situation.  The decision to not treat a patient is a choice and in some instances is the best choice.
Dental practice has changed and is changing rapidly.  W. Edward Deming stated it this way: “It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not necessary”.  According to investment banks, the failure rate of dental practices are less than 1% and the margins for private equity groups to scoop up practices are high and they all want in.  In this environment young graduates will have choices including solo practice, group practice, or joining a dental support organization.  Is solo practice best or the camaraderie and efficiency of a group practice a best fit for you?  What about joining a DSO?  This decision is personal and depends upon perspective.

Dentistry is a very well respected and highly moral profession because it is a dentist and patient discussing options and deciding what is the best way forward regarding care.  I believe we are all concerned when a third party such as an insurance company or private equity company enters into the decision process.  This is especially concerning when the decision is influenced by the end of the month corporate balance sheet as opposed to patient health and autonomy.  I am confident that dentists in any practice structure will encourage the correct course. 

So back to the start of this letter and the original question - is it possible for a thing and the opposite of a thing to be true at the same time?  I think it depends on perspective and we need to try to communicate and understand each other.   We need to welcome and support our new colleagues and accept this changing environment.  This is also the best way to live up to the mission of this dental society and our purpose as dentists.   I take pride and comfort in the cohesive nature of dentistry and this dental society.

It has been my pleasure to serve as your 2017 president.  I am looking forward to next year when Dr. Jacob Merryman will become president of this dental society and we celebrate our 150th anniversary.  There are many events planned to celebrate this milestone; details will follow in the coming months.  In closing, I wish to thank our Executive Director, Lynn Martin, for all she does for this society and all the volunteer board members for the value they add and provide to all of us.  Lynn and all the volunteers continue to keep dentistry the great profession that it has always been and continues to be.

Richard J. Hoskinson, DDS