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Spring 2020 Newsletter: Membership & Member Highlight

Katherine France, DMD, MBE

What drew me to dental school initially was the intellectual challenge of treating each patient to the best of my abilities, constantly mindful of their personal, medical, social, and dental histories. I was also drawn from the beginning to the many career opportunities available in dentistry. I was most excited about the opportunity to serve as both a clinician and educator but was eager to learn more about the many other paths a dental career could take. It will come as no surprise, then, that I found a perfect fit in oral medicine. I was fascinated by the diagnostic dilemma of rare diseases and variable presentations and excited to determine treatment modalities that fit each patient’s particular presentation. It was also fortunate, I often tell my students, that my interest in education fit so directly into my clinical interest, given oral medicine’s historically strong role in dental education.

During my oral medicine residency and as I have started my academic career, I have found the field as interesting, impactful, and invigorating as I had hoped. The warm and welcoming community of specialists I was lucky enough to join has further amazed me. Truly, as has been said many times, the AAOM becomes a professional family. It has been a great delight meeting and getting to know this network and I am very excited to continue this process when we can meet again.

Given such a warm welcome, I was naturally eager to engage with the Academy. This has included the opportunity this year to become chair of the membership committee. Serving on and now chairing the committee has again been an opportunity to meet AAOM members, connect on a variety of subjects, and share my own appreciation for the organization. We are able to speak volumes through a combined voice and are lucky to have many committed members who contribute to that power. That said, as chair of the committee, I also have the opportunity to share the benefits of AAOM membership with others, helping them recognize our power as a specialty and as a body. This has included trying to help members engage and ensuring that all interested parties feel welcome in the AAOM. One new example of expanding involvement came last year, with our AAOM Mentorship Program, pairing established specialists with those seeking guidance. As we enter the second year of this program, we hope for further participation at all levels of the Academy. Please consider joining as either a mentor or mentee!