Setting Priorities for the Profession

December 13, 2011

Dr. Robert MacGregor

As the end of the calendar year and mid-point of my presidency approaches, I would like to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the future. I am very excited about our accomplishments in 2011, which marked the first year of the new governance and membership models between CDA and the provincial dental associations (PDAs). Both models are working extremely well, with membership numbers exceeding expectations in Ontario.

A great example of the renewed cooperative spirit underpinning the membership agreement is a Patient Communication Booklet developed by the Alberta Dental Association and College. Based on the research findings of the national Branding Working Group (BWG), the booklet has been shared with other PDAs for their use. This sharing of products and services reflects the true spirit of the new membership model that is designed to benefit the entire profession.

Since its inception in 2010, the BWG has made great strides in analyzing the public’s perception of dentistry as well as dentists’ own view of their profession. The BWG, composed of dentists and communications experts from CDA and the PDAs, has focused on internal and external messaging to support the patient–dentist conversation. (Visit the “Patient Communication” section of the CDA website to access materials for dentists created by the BWG.) The group’s external campaign has produced messages for print and outdoor advertising, radio and television. The PDAs are able to select which elements of the branding program they wish to use, while the messages remain consistent across the country.

Branding is just one of the priority projects CDA has continued to focus on over the past year—the other two being the new and access to care for children and seniors.

Led enthusiastically by Dr. John O’Keefe, has been conducting research with dentists about their knowledge needs. Initial results show that dental practitioners would like to access condensed information in areas that affect their daily practice, such as medical conditions or drugs that may impact treatment. The ultimate goal is to provide easily accessible information on these topics that practitioners can consult quickly or link to if they want more details. This is an exciting concept that I believe will be useful to Canadian dentists on a daily basis.

CDA’s third priority project continues to be access to care. Because this is such a broad and challenging issue, the CDA Board has decided to focus on two subgroups—children and seniors. CDA’s Committee on Clinical and Scientific Affairs (CCSA) has produced reports that document the impact of early childhood caries (ECC) on the pediatric population and the challenges of providing treatment to seniors living in long-term care facilities.

To act on the CCSA’s strategies and recommendations, CDA formed the National Coordinating Working Group on Access to Care for Children and Seniors in 2011. This group will help promote CDA’s position statement on ECC (with its emphasis on a first dental visit by age one), the need for a risk assessment approach to ECC, and the importance of parental/caregiver counselling and education. For seniors, the emphasis will be on the creation and implementation of provincial and territorial legislation and regulations that mandate oral care standards consistent with the CDA’s position on oral health care for residents in long-term care.

While CDA will continue to work toward these organizational goals, my personal priority for 2012 will be to solidify relationships with all members of the broader dental community—specialists, the military, faculty deans, regulators, students, hygienists and assistants. By opening a dialogue and welcoming other organizations into the “big tent” of Canadian dentistry, we can all share information and ideas that will benefit and advance our profession.

Robert MacGregor, BSc, DDS