By James G. Richeson, DDS, FAGD
The Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD) basic mission is to better serve the public through our members’ dedication to lifelong learning. We have various membership categories (Fellowship and Mastership, for example) that are designed to recognize the commitment of our members. We represent general practitioners in many settings, from the American Dental Association’s (ADA) House of Delegates all the way to Congress, where we recently worked with legislators on the Children’s Dental Health Improvement Act. In fact, the language contained within the bill on Oral Health Literacy education programs in schools is taken verbatim from a submission provided by the AGD. The bill still has to be passed and funded, but it may be a very important step toward achieving optimum oral health care for children throughout our country.
Our new Member Services Center at (888) AGD-DENT now answers more than 90 percent of inquiries, without needing to transfer the call. The AGD is dedicated to representing the needs and interests of the general dentist.
The AGD is always working hard to help get our message out to the public. Here are four things I witnessed:
- A national television Public Service Announcement that was seen in 90 percent of the U.S. markets discussing the link between oral and overall health;
- A spokesperson prominently featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in February 2003;
- We signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services addressing the disparities in the oral health care of Americans (this commitment was recently renewed).
- The Academy’s toll-free public service number, (877) 2X-A-YEAR, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and has garnered 23,000 member referrals.
The question that I was most often asked was, “How is the relationship between the AGD and ADA?” My answer is that it has always been a good relationship but, thanks to the dedicated efforts of all involved, it is now at its highest-ever level. Virtually all of the leadership of the AGD belongs to the ADA, National Dental Association, or Canadian Dental Association, and roughly 90 percent of our total membership belongs to the ADA. In May of 2003, I sent a letter to then-ADA president Howard Jones praising the ADA for putting insurers on notice, and the ADA quoted significant parts of my letter in the ADA News.
At the 2003 AGD Annual Meeting in Nashville, Dr. Jones addressed our House of Delegates and told them that the working relationships between the leaders of the AGD and ADA have been very positive and that he would soon be renewing his AGD membership, which he had dropped in 1995 when the AGD began no longer requiring ADA membership. We encourage membership in the ADA, and we’ve always stated that in our membership application.
At the 2002 AGD annual meeting in Honolulu, then-ADA president Dr. Greg Chadwick and I addressed the AGD House of Delegates with a common theme of the importance of membership in the ADA. There is definitely a synergy between the AGD and the ADA, working together for the betterment of our profession. Clearly a lot of misconceptions still abound outside of leadership levels, but this too has been consistently improving.
For a good overview, let me quote two experts. Dr. Peter Dawson has the perspective of teaching thousands of dentists over a distinguished career. In October of 2002, I heard Pete tell hundreds of course attendees that, “the Academy of General Dentistry has done more to raise the standards of patient care than any other organization in dentistry.” Dr. Dawson kindly gave us his permission to use that quote, and it’s quite a testament to the profound impact of the Academy’s mission and its members’ dedication to lifelong learning.
In 2001, Gordon Christensen gave his permission to use the following quote, “The AGD Fellowship and Mastership programs have provided superb motivation toward continuing education for thousands of dentists. The resulting improvement in oral health care for patients is immeasurable. Achieving AGD Fellowship and especially Mastership status are goals that deserve the attention of every general dentist.”
Our Masters and Fellows have told us that working toward that new membership status has given them a real confidence when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. There is simply no substitute to having a working knowledge of current state-of-the-art technologies in one’s dedication to providing patients optimum care. If you’re not currently an AGD member, why not go to www.agd.org and join today?
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a yearlong series of articles from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). The AGD and Dental Equipment & Materials are working together throughout 2005 to bring you articles that will help you in your practice. For more information on the AGD, log on to www.agd.org or call (888) 243-3368.
James G. Richeson, DDS, FAGD maintains a private dental practice in Washington, DC. In 2002-2003, he served as AGD President and Chair of the Executive Director Search Committee. Dr. Richeson has also held many other positions. Dr. Richeson served as Course Chair for the 1995 AGD Annual Meeting, then served the following year on the AGD Annual Meeting Council, and in 1996, the AGD had the distinction of having the fastest growing annual meeting in health care. He also served on the Academy’s Foundation Board of Directors. On a local level, Dr. Richeson has served as president for the District of Columbia Academy of General Dentistry, the District of Columbia Dental Society and the Georgetown University Alumni Club of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He was recently elected to a third term as Alternate Delegate to the American Dental Association’s House of Delegate, and served as Delegate last year in a delegate’s absence. He was a clinical instructor and lecturer at Georgetown University School of Dentistry. Dr. Richeson has received the highest awards bestowed by both the D.C. Dental Society and the Georgetown Dental Alumni. He is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, the American College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and a member of the American Dental Association. To achieve the Academy of General Dentistry’s Fellowship award, dentists must pass a full-day examination on the latest research findings and complete over 500 hours of approved continuing dental education. The Academy’s Fellowship award epitomizes one’s commitment to advanced proficiency through lifelong continuing education. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].