We Generate Our Own Hope


Dr. John O'Keefe

The end of the year is a time of great hope for me. I like to read our family diary, reflect upon the past year’s entries and try to imagine where the next year will take us. Looking at the 2011 diary entries for JCDA, I take particular pleasure in how we set out to engage general practitioners and really listen to their views, as JCDA transitions from a classic scholarly publication to becoming the hub of a web of clinical knowledge networks for dentistry.

I am most proud of bringing together a virtual panel of general dentists from across the country that is giving us detailed advice about how to make JCDA more useful to their daily clinical lives. For example, our general dentist advisors have said that although there is no shortage of clinical information available to them, useful and credible knowledge is not currently packaged, placed in context or delivered in a readily accessible manner.

By developing a better understanding of the work flows and clinical knowledge needs of modern Canadian dental offices, our goal is to present an arrangement of existing clinical information in a useful and accessible format. Some of this knowledge will be designed for immediate use in the dental office, while other components will be more conducive for consultation at a leisurely pace.

Of course, this is an ambitious project that will have to be created patiently over time. When I recently outlined the project to one of my dearest mentors, he encouraged me to continue on this path as he believes there is a definite need for such a knowledge delivery system. He also advised me not to be deterred by those who might say this is an impossible dream.

Indeed, some people have told me that we can never pull this off. But I derive hope and optimism from some of the responses I received after placing a “call for dentists” in my previous column. Here are some of the uplifting comments I received:

I would be happy to help in any way with this project. I am still fairly new to dentistry but I hope I can still contribute. Overall I want to help people, and I want to be proud of the work our profession does to help others.

Thank you for the kind opportunity to volunteer and improve the knowledge base of our profession. I am interested and would like to know more.

I am just a general practice dentist. Don’t know if I am good at doing what you need done, but I am willing to try and help in any way I can.”

"It's beyond wonderful to hear this request for a clinical support service. I've approached everyone and their uncle for the past five years to do something like this online."

"This idea seems great. I would be more than willing to contribute and help in anyway."

"I am a dental anaesthesiologist and would like to help you with any sedation questions and templates."

With such big-hearted colleagues offering to volunteer their time and expertise, I am confident that we can launch an initial version of JCDA OASIS (Online Advice and Searchable Information System) in 2012. And the more people that get involved, the quicker we can launch, test and enhance the service.

At this early stage of the project, we are looking for dentists who are willing to distill knowledge from existing quality resources into templates that we have created. These drafts will then be sent for peer review. We plan to match volunteers to topics in which they have a particular interest. If you have friends or colleagues that you already share clinical knowledge with, perhaps you would also invite them to participate in this project. We hope to make this a creative and enjoyable experience, as well as an innovative opportunity to contribute to the profession.

If we believe we can pull this off, we can. For a wonderful example of what can be achieved when a group of like-minded people come together, search for “The Virtual Choir” online or watch a presentation about this inspiring project on TED.com. I wish you all a happy holiday season and hope to hear from you in the new year.

John P. O'Keefe
1-800-267-6354, ext. 2297