DELAWARE - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - MARYLAND - NEW JERSEY - PENNSYLVANIA - PUERTO RICO - US VIRGIN ISLANDS
Back to the Future
As I start this year with the Mid Atlantic Society of Orthodontists (MASO) in the capacity of president, I cannot help but think back to my journey getting here. Being an orthodontist was not something that I had ever thought about as a teenager, a dental school graduate or even as a practicing dentist. I always thought about Oral Surgery as my path forward. A few conversations with friends and family, some deep insight changed that for me and resulted in my abrupt and rather acute course correction toward the field of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. It was a moment of realization much like that “spark” which is ignited in one’s brain guiding one in a certain direction. At the time, I could never have predicted the journey that would lie ahead, the people I would meet and come to know as my family, the places it would take me and eventually where I would settle. These all revolved around the field I had come to know as my profession, orthodontics.
Following my graduation from Boston University’s Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics Program, I relocated to the Washington DC area where I currently reside. As a resident, the mentorship of Dr. Anthony Gianelly and the other brilliant faculty, provided me with the necessary clinical training such that upon graduation from Boston University my focus was on finding my footing and learning as much about the business of orthodontics as possible. The thought and opportunity to serve the orthodontic community as part of any organization had never arisen and with a very busy work schedule, I often wondered how some of my peers undertook the responsibilities associated with involvement in organized dentistry. Almost a decade following graduation, as I was transitioning from being a full-time associate orthodontist to practice owner, I was approached by Dr. Jean Asmar and offered an opportunity to join MASO as a board member. As we sat to discuss the position and its responsibilities, I could sense from our conversation how rewarding his involvement had been and how eager he was to have his peers also participate and experience this firsthand. This opportunity was one of the many beautiful ones that I had received starting back with my acceptance into the orthodontics program at Boston University.
Upon joining MASO, the learning curve was steep. There were new colleagues to meet, positions and roles played by each to understand as well as nuances and systems that make an organization of this size function and serve a greater purpose. It was immediately apparent to me that MASO was, and remains, a very well run organization that I have come to understand more and more over the years. It seemed to me that the one thing that all the individuals whom I met during my first year on the MASO board and since have in common is a sense of selflessness. A wanting to serve for the betterment of our profession and constituency has been a common theme among everyone. Most often at the expense of time with their families and loved ones as well as their practices. When the board convenes over the phone, in person or at times virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone knows we are there to advance the profession of orthodontics and for the betterment and service of our constituent members and local organizations.
As an organization, I have found MASO to be very welcoming to new ideas and show a willingness to explore ways to keep up with the times and even stay ahead if possible. This is very much in sync with the current state of the orthodontic specialty, whereby we have always been ahead, forward thinking and constantly reinventing our specialty; a journey back to the future of sorts; where we have taken the latest technology available and applied it to basic theories and proven methods. We have been open to challenges and come to learn from them. My experience serving in MASO has been that we have been able to identify potential issues, dissect them accordingly and then present viable resolutions that are in accordance with our guidelines and those of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
The most recent issues that we have had to tackle have been the COVID-19 pandemic and its short-term and long-term impact on our profession. This not only affected our constituent members, their families, and businesses but also the organization as a whole. We have had to think hard and search deep to find immediate and viable solutions to overcome challenges no matter how basic or how complex. Its effects on all aspects of life were brought forth and addressed. We shared everything we had individually learned among ourselves and ensured, when necessary, they were also shared with our constituents as well as other organizations. We had to rethink our approach to our annual meetings and even the significance of such meetings. Hard questions had to be addressed and immediate solutions presented. At times it felt like a race against time when we had to reorganize an in-person and otherwise traditional meeting to an entirely virtual one, a foreign concept to anyone at the time.
We continue today with global topics that have led us to take a profound look at ourselves and our profession as a whole to ensure we are on the right side of history. Those topics being inclusivity and equal rights. At the same time, we are contending with the rapid advancement of technology that is being applied to the orthodontic profession and its immediate and long-term implications. Combined, these advancements will likely change how we as orthodontists work on a day-to-day basis. MASO will have to lead the way in exploring ways to address these topics, all the while keeping in accordance with our guidelines and those of the AAO.
I hope that MASO continues on this path and is able to attract the young and upcoming professionals in our field among its ranks for the betterment of the profession as a whole. It is my intention to continue on the set path while at the same time presenting opportunities to those who have wanted to join organized dentistry or others whom, like myself, had never thought about it. The future is bright for our profession. I look forward to all our continued involvement in the years to come.