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ADA House of Delegates to vote on dental specialty recognition process

Resolution seeks to establish new commission to oversee requests

By Kimber Solana

In an effort to reduce potential or perceived bias and conflict of interest in the decision-making process for recognizing dental specialties, the ADA Board of Trustees submitted a proposal to the 2017 House of Delegates to establish a new commission to oversee the process.

Res. 30-2017 calls for an amendment to the ADA Bylaws, and the Board’s report outlines draft rules for the proposed creation of the ADA National Commission on Recognition for Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards. A two-thirds majority vote of the House is required to amend the bylaws.

“If we don’t get the specialty recognition process out of the politically charged atmosphere of the House of Delegates, no one will ever come to the ADA for specialty recognition again,” said Dr. Gary L. Roberts, ADA president. “I want to make sure that the ADA’s criteria and process for determining recognized specialties remains the gold standard. This commission will assure that.”

The establishment of the new commission will enhance the specialty recognition program that sets requirements designed to help dentists excel throughout their careers and the public ascertain the importance of educated and board certified dental specialists, according to the Board’s report.

Currently, the ADA House of Delegates determine the recognition of dental specialties, organizations and certifying boards. According to the report, the current process carries financial and reputational risks.

The Board report accompanying the resolution states that “while the process will be grounded in the existing ADA Requirements for the Recognition of Dental Specialties and national Certifying Boards for Dental Specialists as approved by the ADA House of Delegates, the decision to grant or deny recognition to a dental specialty must rest with a new commission.”

The Board’s decision to explore a new commission was made after it charged the Task Force on Specialty and Specialty Certifying Board Recognition to evaluate the process and criteria by which specialties and specialty certifying boards are recognized.

The Board and task force created a list of principles that guided them in developing a proposal to revise the process. These principles included:

  • The process must be grounded in objective standards that protect the public, nurture the art and science of dentistry and improve the quality of care.
  • The process must serve to reduce potential bias or conflicts of interest, or the perception of bias or conflicts of interest, in the decision-making process.
  • The process must include multiple steps, including provisions for appeal.
  • The process must be operationally similar to the Commission on Continuing Education Provider Recognition, Commission on Dental Accreditation and Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations.

The creation of the ADA National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards can accomplish those principles and others, according to the proposal.