In March of 2018 Dr. Marko Vujicic wrote a guest editorial in JADA. It was titled Our Dental System is Stuck. Below is my response to this thought piece.
In the March issue of JADA Dr. Marko Vujicic described the current dental system as “stuck”. He believes that major reforms are needed to improve the dental care system in a meaningful way. He recognizes the disruptive implications of these reforms, but insists that they are absolutely necessary to improve the oral health of the American public. Dr. Vujicic ends his editorial asking: who will lead the change? Well Dr. Vujicic, I’m raising my hand.
I believe there are others in the dental community also stepping forward and speaking out. I believe that we must find a way to connect, collaborate, and create. The reforms you suggest will take many years, and they start with the decisions being made today. The organizations that affect dentistry are changing the future of the dental profession. Yet the individuals making these decisions will likely not be affected. The future that is being changed, is mine.
I personally am dissatisfied with the millions of Americans being left behind in our current dental system. But I am just one voice with only a handful of experiences. Do we know what the voices of the future want it to look like? New dentists are graduating with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt and entering a dental community that doesn’t look anything like what they imagined. We are struggling to adapt, struggling to achieve the quality of life we worked so hard to attain.
I believe the only way to produce sustainable and meaningful improvements in our dental system, is to seek the help of my generation.
I challenge students and new dentists to get informed and speak up. Don’t feel like you don’t have a voice. You do and you must. Connect with others on social media. Get involved in organized dentistry. Apply for positions on committees. Every voice is important.
I challenge dental educators to support these discussions. Create a space where students feel comfortable asking ‘Why’ and ‘How can we make this better?’ If the goal is to prepare students for the real-world, we must teach them how to thrive in an ever-changing environment.
Finally, I challenge the entire dental community to actively create space for new perspectives. I believe that our profession is made of large hearts and brilliant minds from all ages and with unique experiences. We must consider them all if we want to improve our profession and the impact it has on the American public.
So stand up. Speak out. We want to hear what you have to say.