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Delegates vote to study retired member needs

Honolulu—Through passage of Resolution 76H-2009, the ADA House of Delegates directed the ADA to seek ways to increase membership value for retiring and retired dentists.

Res. 76H-2009 calls for the Council on Membership to consider and promote activities for members approaching retirement and retired members in order to increase retention.

"This is a growing segment of our membership, and instead of losing these members we'd like to see if we can offer more or different benefits to keep them as members of the American Dental Association," said Dr. Terry L. Buckenheimer, chair of the Council on Membership.

" 'Retiring' is a different scenario than retired, which is why we'd like to study member needs in that category," he added. "Retiring is where dentists may be slowing down in practice, perhaps slowly weaning themselves from practice and their income is not as high. It's vital that we continue to enhance membership value to that group in their transition years."

As the number of retiring and retired members increases, societies throughout the tripartite are looking at new ways to address their needs. Almost half of the constituent societies have 50 percent or more of their members who are age 55 and over, according to ADA year-end data for 2008. By region, the Northeast had the highest average percentage of members age 55 and over at 53.3 percent; the Midwest was at 50.2 percent; the South 48.9 percent; and the West 45 percent.

In September, the Maryland State Dental Association's House of Delegates created a new standing committee called the Retiring Dentist Committee.

"Over the last few years we had started to notice that a large number of members were getting past the age of 65—as many as 10-15 percent of our members were in that age group," said Dr. William F. Martin III, MSDA president and a member of the ADA Council on Membership.

"Many of them were telling us that they'd like to stay involved but that they didn't have the same interests as practicing dentists," said Dr. Martin. "The time had come to find out what they were interested in and give them a way to provide feedback through their own committee."

MSDA's Retiring Dentist Committee will address the needs of dentists within five years of retiring and those already retired. Dr. Martin said activities will include programs on transitioning to retirement, mentoring new dentists and social activities.

Dr. Buckenheimer said the ADA Council on Membership is interested in conducting research for those transitioning to retirement to find out what would be of value to them.

"This could include member benefits that we've never looked at before," said Dr. Buckenheimer. "Maybe special continuing education programs at annual session; travel experiences; programs on transitioning out of practice, investment strategies or retiring in economically difficult times; or even new insurance benefits. This could be any program or activity that might make retiring and retired dentists value membership in a new way."

Res. 76H-2009 also calls for the council to report its findings to the 2010 House of Delegates.