The Importance of PDA Membership
By Dr. Tad S. Glossner
In this article, I have been asked to answer a question that has many different correct answers: Why should I join my local, state and national dental associations?
I will return to this question, but let’s first look at why these organizations are so prevalent. As the news of an economic recession becomes everyday, front page material, everyone, dentists included, is looking for ways to save money. By not joining or renewing my membership, I could save money on the dues, but after considering the ramifications, this is the last thing I would do. Here’s why.
This year the American Dental Association (ADA) is celebrating its 150th year of existence. This means that we have the privilege of belonging to an organization that has been fighting political battles on our profession’s behalf for longer than any of us has been alive. They haven’t won every battle, but with the help of the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) and our local chapters of organized dentistry, the cumulative wins and losses have created the profession of dentistry as you know it today.
I would be remiss if I did not give credit to the regulatory boards and various governmental agencies for their respective impact in sculpting our profession. In Pennsylvania, regulation of our profession is left to the State Board of Dentistry (SBOD), whose primary goal is to protect the public (from us). There have been many times when proposed SBOD regulations have been overly restrictive and PDA has gone to battle for us and won. For example, PDA defeated legislation that would have created a burdensome reporting system for all dentists, requiring us to submit dental fees to the state on a regular basis, saving us time and money.
This year, when the SBOD proposed sexual misconduct regulations to prevent us from having any contact with patients (friends or not, male or female) outside of the professional atmosphere, PDA voiced as much opposition as was allowed by law. Unfortunately, this was a battle we lost, but at least we fought it.
Imagine how dentistry might look if we were unable to voice a collective opinion against the regulators. Membership in these organizations provides members with a collective voice to promote their members’ best interests and to safeguard the profession from being distorted by outside bodies.
Dentistry provides all of us an opportunity for personal and professional growth and achievement. Personally, dentistry has afforded me the ability to raise a family, own a home, save some money for my child’s college dreams, and has given me a great sense of pride each and every day that I am able to help someone who is in pain. Professionally, I have been able to meet face-to-face with our government leaders on issues that affect health care in our state and others, spoken with fascinating dental/medical innovators, attended meetings with worldwide experts in dental education and had the opportunity to give input into the direction that our profession will take in the next decade.
So, why join local, state and national dental associations? I have told you why I joined, but to answer the question for yourself, take a minute and think about everything that your career has afforded you. Without PDA and ADA, you might not have any of it!
For those of you who are already members, you understand the value of having organizations committed to fighting for your personal and professional freedoms by opposing overregulation at all levels, and I would like to personally thank you for indirectly helping to create such a great profession. To those of you who are not members, I would implore you to consider joining and stop riding for free. Just ask the medical community where 20 percent membership in their national organization has gotten them.