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President’s Message

Legacy.

It’s only six letters but it’s a BIG word. Like many of you who are taking the time to read this column, I am a parent and a small business owner, and at its most basic sense, legacy encompasses so much of what we want for our children, for our businesses, for our communities.

By the time this goes to print, we will have endured another contentious and divisive political season, but I am confident the United States is still standing because I know our principles are foundational and our aspirations transcend our political differences. In other words, we all want the same things for our families and our communities: security, freedom, education; to have our kids do better than we did. Legacy.

When I had the privilege of becoming President of the Southwest Society, I had the opportunity to have my Father in the audience and I made mention of how amazing it was to think that a kid from El Salvador could wind up on that dais, amongst many of the people I respect the most in our profession, in one of the most respected organizations in our profession. It is a testament to the legacy of the Founding Fathers in creating the Land of Opportunity and to my Mother and Father who risked everything to create a better life for my brother and me here in the United States. It is also a testament to the crucial legacy of mentorship created by the people who founded the Southwest Society of Periodontists.

I wouldn’t be here, writing these words, without the many friends and mentors within the Society who encouraged me to join and to contribute. I purposely use the word “crucial” because we are at a crossroads in our profession, where I believe mentorship carries greater weight than ever. We are all familiar with reports that professional organizations across all career paths are losing membership, and dentistry as a whole has mirrored that trend. However, recent data shows that that the pendulum could be swinging back towards increased membership in professional organizations and the reasons are not unfamiliar to those of us active in the Society and organized dentistry as a whole.

But first, the bad news. A 2015 article in Entrepreneur magazine quoted from a Buzz Marketing Group (BMG) survey that noted that respondents under the age of 40 were leaving professional organizations due to lack of perceived value (37%), expense (45%), the community was not their peers (35%), and that the group lacked technology (31%). A more recent survey conducted by Naylor Association Solutions entitled “Association Communications Benchmarking Study 2016” found that 56% of professional associations admitted to having trouble engaging young professionals.

Nevertheless, 93% of respondents in the BMG Survey stated that social interaction was extremely important in their professional lives. Ironically, in a world seemingly dominated by Facebook and Twitter, what young professionals are yearning for are more meaningful business relationships.

Both of these surveys emphasized that the top 5 benefits professionals under 40 are looking for in their professional organizations are networking, gaining new skills, educational/professional resources, jobs, and community outreach. BMG went further and reported 81% of their respondents prefer to join organizations with mentors within the group rather than self-guided organizations, and 77% who were not in a professional organization intended to join one.

It would appear that new members are out there, ready for us to reach out to them right now.

Historically, one of the biggest benefits of the SWSP has always been networking amongst our peers. As noted in the surveys above, this is a huge deal! Our meetings bring world-renown clinicians and multiple companies to a more intimate setting where we can all sharpen our skills and take advantage of more time with our corporate partners. Associateships and partnerships have undoubtedly sprung from the morning break between sessions. We already have much of what our colleagues are looking for in a professional society. Our task is to better communicate all that the SWSP offers to our non-member friends and continue to grow and engage our community.

I give tremendous credit to the Presidents and Boards that came before me as well as to CMP Management for laying the groundwork for a more receptive, nimble, informative, and engaged Southwest Society. First and foremost, CMP has helped us streamline our Society, modernize our brand, and put processes in place to help us achieve our goals. Before our 2016 Summer Meeting, in what will now become a yearly component of our governance, our Society held a strategic planning session facilitated by CMP President, Carolyn Price. Also at our Summer Meeting, we held a new Active Member cabana event to allow new members to interact in a more relaxed setting.

The challenges facing Periodontics impact all of us in the profession regardless of time in practice; from insurance issues, to staff concerns, to referral relationships, to scope of practice, these issues are universal to all Periodontists, and I would argue that they impact our younger members (less than 10 years in practice) even more. New anesthesia regulations in my home state of Texas are around the corner and many of us are working diligently to get it right lest we lose privileges important to our patients and practices. These challenges are best met together, and what affects one, does affect us all. As a regional society, we can and must draw from each other’s experiences in all aspects of our profession.

In closing, I want to challenge each and every one of us to contact one non-member periodontist colleague or perio resident and invite them to the next Southwest Society of Periodontists Winter Meeting. With your invitation and sponsorship, the registration fee is free for your potential member guest to attend.

Good or bad, we define our legacy. Let’s work together to make it great.

Dr. Eduardo Lorenzana
President 2016-2017

 

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