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Staying true to the Association's values is key: Dr. Findley

The American Dental Association turns 150 years old next year, a milestone signaling that the Association is "relevant" and has "standing within the profession" as an advocate for dentistry and its patients.

It is a legacy that must be nurtured and protected with great care, Dr. John S. Findley, the ADA's new president, told the House of Delegates Oct. 21.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women whose values made the ADA great," he said, "and we have an obligation to those who will follow to keep those values and this profession intact."

Dr. Findley, a general dentist from Cross Roads, Texas, addressed the House shortly after his installation as president. The House is meeting this week at the Association's 149th Annual Session in San Antonio, Texas.

"May we never forget the wonderful heritage of care and concern that is part of our profession," said the new president. "May we continue to keep the patient first in our deliberations and our care. To do so guarantees that dentistry and the ADA will stand for another 150 years."

Dentistry's values, reflected in the Association itself, place "the highest emphasis on quality of care, the doctor-patient relationship and freedom," he said, adding that freedoms the profession values most are the freedom of patients to choose their own dentist and the freedom of dentists to practice without unwarranted third-party or government intrusion.

"We have huge questions of access, of licensure, workforce, education, funding and membership," he said, "and we must address those questions with our combined efforts, as a profession united and as a profession determined."

Dr. Findley talked about the need for the Association to uphold its "strict standards" of conduct in its relationships with industry, and to honor the bylaws authority of the House as the ADA's "supreme governing body."

He noted that science is  "the bedrock" of the dental profession, and vowed that science would be the "overriding" factor in driving corporate relations and other activities. He said he recognized that non-dues income is necessary to supplement dues dollars.

But he pledged that the membership would see "an increased sensitivity to projects and activities that reflect good science and our values, while meeting our needs for non-dues income."

Dr. Findley vowed that ADA councils would receive "complete and unbiased information" and the "full breadth of their bylaws authority." He noted, too, that he values and promotes "transparency," which he defined as an openness and honesty that helps build and maintain trust.

"Transparency is essential if you expect and demand accountability, and you should," he told the delegates.

"This is a great Association and a great profession," Dr. Findley said in closing. "We are a family with growing pains, increased social responsibilities, a changing environment and a threatened economy.

"Today is the day, now is the time, to find strength in one another and our ADA," he continued. "Together we will face the problems, answer adversity with unanimity, and serve patient and profession with the traditions and values that have served us well for 149 years."