The beauty of the Pennsylvania AGD's PEAK Program

May 23, 2011

By Charles D. Samaras, DMD, FACD, FICD

Through my lecturing and training courses I have been privileged to meet many incredible people who make up the dental profession. Most of these lecture courses have been at local and state dental societies and state AGD meetings, as well as a few national dental meetings. They have all been tremendous experiences. Over the years, as an invited speaker, I have become a fan of many state AGDs. However, I have never been more impressed with an organized dental society than I was with Dr. Rick Knowlton and members of the Pennsylvania AGD.

Over the last several years, the Pennsylvania AGD has invited me to speak to its members on a variety of subjects as part of their PAGD PEAK Programs. The objective of these programs is to provide a comprehensive continuing education track over a four-year cycle. This program provides an exciting mix of excellent continuing education, challenging office assignments, professional growth, and new friendships around the state of Pennsylvania.

To achieve Fellowship in the AGD, 500 hours of continuing education is required. This honor requires a significant commitment of time and energy along with a financial investment. In attaining Mastership in the AGD, awardees meet the highest criteria for professional excellence by completing 1,100 hours of continuing dental education in the 16 disciplines of dentistry, including 400 hours dedicated to practicing “hands on” skills and techniques. In addition, to qualify for mastership, each candidate must meet the requirements of a rigorous didactic formula that ensures they are exposed to current scientific and clinical approaches in all disciplines of dentistry. Nationally, there are approximately 14,000 Fellows and 2,220 Masters. To date, Pennsylvania boasts 366 Fellows and 151 Masters, a marvelous achievement!

Now, The PEAK Plan is a Mastership track program open to both pre-fellows and Fellows in the Academy. The program is offered each year in the spring and fall. Each course is from Thursday through Sunday. Part of the course involves an in-office assignment to be completed during the six-month period and presentation on the first day. Some of the most exciting parts of the Thursday program were the more than 30 case presentations by PAGD members, which are a vital and integral part of the PEAK Fellowship/Mastership Track Program and provide up to 52 credit hours. I have never witnessed anything so impressive in my dental education career.

Each presentation was approximately 10 to 15 minutes long, was germane to the lecture topic(s) from the previous session, and included a practice management “tidbit” that increased their office efficiency. The reason I was so impressed with this session of presentations was the amazing dialogue, exchange of information and ideas, and genuine support of all the PAGD members for their presenting colleagues. Each presenter showed their successes and failures because they were comfortable with the respect and support of their colleagues. The camaraderie of this group is something to behold. I quickly realized what a unique experience I was witnessing. The entire PAGD encouraged me to participate in every aspect of the session. Every member treated me like family and let me know that they appreciated my contributions to the PAGD and that I was welcome to attend future PEAK meetings. I also learned of the new AGD post mastership award, the Lifelong Learning and Service Recognition (LLSR) award that can be obtained by completing 500 additional hours of continuing education post mastership, 250 hours of which are in participation credits and 100 hours of community service promoting dentistry. There are presently 30 dentists nationally who have achieved this milestone.

In conclusion, my hope is that many more dentists become actively involved in their state AGD societies and consider pursuing a Fellowship or Mastership award. Certainly the Pennsylvania AGD and PEAK programs serve as a model for attaining these prestigious awards and furthering education and collegiality in dentistry. I believe everyone will come away with the positive experience I encountered.

Charles D. Samaras, DMD, FACD, FICD, has practiced dentistry for more than 29 years. A graduate of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, he served as director of practice management there for nine years. Dr. Samaras is an international speaker, author, and a cofounder of 21st Century Practice Solutions. Reach him at [email protected].