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President's Message

Dear AAOM Colleagues:

When I was twelve, one of my school assignments was a written report of a significant political change in the 1970s in the southern hemisphere. At that age, I barely could tell north from south and felt unsure on how to proceed. Recall these were the days of library searching using index cards and picking books up from busy stands. I needed help. My dad, an active general and gastric surgeon took three days off to hold my hand and walk with me to the local public library. He taught me how to look for topics and request the necessary books. He even sat with me to summarize the information for my report. When we returned home at the end of the second day, he showed me how to use the typewriter more efficiently (the same four fingers I still use but much slower!). I did not realize he canceled his surgical schedule and took on extra call a week later just to be with me those 72 hours. The report was done, and I was the resident expert in our library system!

What my dad did not fathom was that this event marked my endless thirst for reading. I recently completed the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, among other thoughts, success factors related to society “outliers” are explored. Case studies illustrate how individuals with similar opportunities thrive based on family environment, a keen development of rare skills, practical intelligence, and less from inherited parental traits. Even timing, defined as generational birth dates, plays a role in successfully developing true outliers. Most outliers follow a passion and curiosity for discovery, fed by the right mentors, timing, and grit.

In year two of its formal recognition, our specialty is an outlier specialty of dental medicine. Those of us who stand on the shoulders of giants recognize that to train in oral medicine in the past century was an adventure fueled by passion, a search for innovation, and the best patient care. We knew we were crossing tortuous roads, as our programs lived among the worlds of general dentistry, surgical disciplines, and other diagnostic disciplines. We trained to provide superb care to patients in need, addressing a global gap in care. We polished rare skills in inter-professional care and education (IPE) and worked alongside physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and other medical subspecialties. We went out to work in healthcare systems, academia, or private practice. Fast forward to 2021: inter-professional education permeates conversations at most professional meetings. Universities purposefully develop IPE programs, and the ADA and our examining bodies design tests to measure student’s ability to integrate the basic and clinical sciences. This is oral medicine in practice!

We are true Outliers who possess the skillset in demand in the next twenty years of our profession and beyond. Our role as an Academy is to seek allies and form strategic alliances to strengthen our foothold in healthcare. Your Executive Committee met in August in Boston to draft the initial stages of our strategic plan for the next decade, and we are working on a draft for membership review. More to come soon on this topic. I am also excited to welcome everyone to the fall meeting at the University of Pennsylvania in November and hope you can make it to this outstanding event. The meeting theme will be akin to the core of our discipline:  An Update on General Medicine for Dental Medicine. We also continue with our online seminar series as a member service. Please follow us on social media, where you can see periodic updates to Academy activities. Thank you for being part of the AAOM family and have a great fall season!


Andres Pinto DMD