February 04, 2013
I read the article "Council Initiates Study of Criteria, Process for Specialty Recognition" (Jan. 7 ADA News) with some degree of hope that our organization would finally recognize the inevitable: that many practitioners have gone well beyond dental school training without specialty recognition because we have not kept pace with the explosion of knowledge and training available.
This attitude begins in dental school, when we still refuse to admit that we just cannot teach everything to be a general dentist in four years. So now we have one-year internships we call "residencies" and think the job of training young doctors is done.
But some doctors hunger for training beyond that and go into programs from two to four years in areas that are still considered general dentistry, and so remain untitled for all their efforts. They work side by side in public health dental clinics, and academics with those who have ended their formal training at the doctoral level, but are "grandfathered" because they have been in the job for a while. Others attend courses from one to six weeks and consider themselves "specialists" in esthetics or TMJD.
The time has come to reward those who seek and obtain advanced training, even training in advanced general dentistry, and stop acting as though we may offend some who do not put forth that effort. This may even encourage dental students and recent graduates to seek additional training in areas that need increased participation by our profession.
Larry D. Anderson, D.D.S.