Fellow PCSO Members,
Each year, the AAO convenes its House of Delegates to consider issues of policy and operations which affect all AAO members. The House is made up of representatives from every constituent organization and PCSO President, Dr. Ron Jawor has appointed 14 exceptional members with a broad range of perspectives and experience to this year’s PCSO Delegation. Although our delegates are PCSO members and each holds the interests of the PCSO in high regard, each delegate is sworn to represent, above all else, the interests of all AAO members in the deliberations and decisions made by the House of Delegates.
While there are a number of important and complex issues before the House for consideration this year, one particular resolution which originated within the PCSO has already received much attention and I want to take this opportunity to ensure that all PCSO members are aware of and understand the resolution your delegation has taken forward.
The resolution reads as follows: RESOLVED that the ABO designation and logo for members who are certified by the American Board of Orthodontics be removed from the orthodontist locator on the AAO public website (mylifemysmile.org) effective immediately.
In order to appreciate this issue, I strongly urge each of you to play the role of a prospective patient searching the AAO public website by clicking on FIND A DOCTOR and entering an address from your community with a wide range of distance and you will quickly visualize the issue. Some members have an extra designation of being ABO Certified.
Members of the PCSO Delegation do believe that the ABO certification is something of which ABO members should be proud and which has significant meaning. In fact, more than half of the delegation members are ABO Diplomates themselves. The concern is rooted in two beliefs. The first belief is that most dental consumers are not familiar with the meaning of ABO certification and more than likely equate board certification with being more qualified when seen in a list of other orthodontists. At the very least, consumers will view those listed as ABO certified as different. The second belief is that the AAO has an obligation to promote all of its AAO members equally.
We believe it is up to the ABO and the certified members to promote their unique, differentiating qualities. And that can be accomplished not only on the ABO website but also on each ABO member’s website. In addition, the consumer directory has a link to the member’s website on each listing which makes it easy for the consumer to learn more about the member.
With this resolution, it’s important to not paint with a broad stroke and conclude that it is a “negative ABO member” resolution. To the contrary, this is a “pro AAO member” resolution. All AAO members pay the same dues, and even more to the point, the same assessment. These funds are used to fund AAO resources and the Consumer Awareness Program (CAP) which is geared toward driving the consumer to www.mylifemysmile.org. The message of the CAP is very clear—EVERY orthodontist is a specialist and has two to three additional years of specialized education beyond dental school. Any distractor from this message negatively impacts the clarity and penetration of the message and the effectiveness of the campaign. Our objective is to differentiate ourselves as orthodontists from general practitioners and other providers-- not from one another.
All that being said, we believe it IS important that the ABO designation remain on the member directory on www.aaoinfo.org. This directory is used by AAO colleagues who are able to put information about a fellow member’s education, certification and practice techniques in context when making referrals. The ABO designation does belong in this context. When the printed directory transitioned to an electronic directory, these details were important things to retain so that all AAO members have that information. The directory for consumer use, however, is an important benefit for all AAO members, but as it evolves, it is critically important to carefully evaluate the information included relative to what consumers see and how consumers make decisions.
With this resolution, the PCSO delegation is asking all delegates—in fact, all AAO members—to consider if the ABO designation in this context is detrimental to advancing the message of the AAO Consumer Awareness Campaign to the best advantage of all AAO members who support the campaign through their dues and assessment dollars. Our goal is that when a list of AAO members is generated by a consumer, all AAO members are seen as equals in that consumer’s eye.
Dr. Ron Wolk
Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics
PCSO Delegation Chair and Past President