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Washington State Dental Association

Dr. Mary Jennings' Editorial: We Work For You

Why do you choose to be a member of the ADA and our tripartite? What has meaning and value to you? That is what the ADA and WSDA Leadership work on every single day. What can we do to help the new dentist with debt and their transition into the profession? What about older dentists facing retirement in a poor economy?

What can we do to help you?

Probably the biggest problem is that there are a tremendous number of benefits available but most of us forget or don’t realize what is offered.

You probably know that the highest rated member benefit is Advocacy. It is how we keep well-intentioned fools from doing things to and with our profession. I am a member of the ADA Council on Government Affairs. I can tell you that the ADA uses all their councils to network and vet policies and even the letters we send to various agencies. This process ensures that we have the true essence of our member’s voice. 

A few weeks ago, our council considered Senate bill 2292, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Financing Act. It allows graduates to consolidate or refinance loans at the same low interest rates that banks are given when they borrow money from the Federal Reserve. So far it has 32 sponsors. Will it pass? Who knows! But we are out there, speaking up for our new dentists.

WSDA’s advocacy program has won Golden Apple awards from the ADA. That, along with the satisfying ire of those we oppose, makes me tremendously proud. We have held the line on workforce and a gamut of other issues both small and large. Our Dental Action Day is a tremendous success. Our long-standing Grassroots Network (aka- Dogs of War) barks like hell when the legislative need arises. We have developed very effective processes at both the state and national level.

Your WSDA Board of Directors realizes that we are transitioning from an older generation to a new. Sixty percent of our membership is over fifty. How do we pass the torch of support and leadership to our new peers? How do we stay relevant to both groups?

The WSDA’s leadership is dedicated to being inclusive. We actively mentor and work with the University of Washington Dental Students. We sent buses to the school to get them to our legislative day. We recognize that times are changing. Students must tell their story of the personal and financial sacrifice it takes these days to become a dentist. Our older dentists could turn a blind eye. Instead, they are remarkable in their mentorship and support. Our village takes care of our own in this regard.

WSDA developed a New Dentist Think Tank to gain insight into that group’s specific issues. Out of that came our new WSDA Academy. Its motto is “Aliqua, Virtus, Amicita” which translates to- education, excellence and friendship. There are sixteen complimentary CE events scheduled this year across the state. Only twenty seats are available so sign up now!

How about our Job Fairs? We started those in 2012. We match dentists looking for jobs or practices with those who have them. An amazing 91 percent of those who attend rate their experience as either good or excellent. 
This year we will have a Job Fair on Friday at PNDC. This will be held in association with practice transition courses offered on Wednesday and Thursday nights. How convenient is that? 

I am also excited to announce that the ADA and WSDA are working collaboratively to develop an amazing membership app that will allow members to sign up for alerts when jobs or practices are available that match their predetermined criteria. What a cutting edge advantage for WSDA members to be the first to know about an associateship or a newly-listed practice on the market. It’s a great way to keep things in the family. 

Don’t forget our WSDA Leadership Institute. It is how we introduce members who yearn for leadership learn how to make that possible. WSDA leaders are matched with participants as mentors. There are six events a year. WSDA pays participants for their transportation, hotels and meals. We feel this is an investment in our Association’s future and well worth the effort.

Take a few minutes and browse both the ADA’s and WSDA’s membership benefit pages. I did. I discovered things I need in my practice right now. I read about CDT Codes and the current ADA Fee Survey this morning. That was helpful!

But most importantly, if you do not see what you need then call! On a component, state and national level, we have skilled staff at the ready. The ADA and WSDA have over 155 and 127 years of experience, respectively. We are still evolving and working to meet the needs of our dental community. We work for you. 
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