I listened to the talk “A Call for Professionalism” by Dr. Peter Greco and Dr. Eladio DeLeon, Jr. on the AAO member website (their talk starts about 1:34:00) and it was interesting to say the least. I won’t bore you with the details as you can watch the talk for yourself but the thing that really grabbed my attention was what Dr. Greco said at 1:40:30 while quoting a physician born in the 1800s –
“We must combine the new economy with the old morality…”
When it comes to orthodontists and the AAO, their obsession with the past never ceases to amaze me. Dr. Greco recited the 7 wonders of the ancient world, referred to Hippocrates and then took his central theme on morality from a man whose parents were likely alive when it was considered legal and even moral by some to own another human being. A man who lived during a time when women were not allowed to vote, when segregation was normal, when it was perfectly acceptable to judge someone based on their religion, race language, preferences or anything else that was not considered Anglo-Saxon-Protestant-White…
So exactly which part of “old morality” is Dr. Greco suggesting we revise? We can look at photos of the men in the AAO leadership over the years and it won’t be hard to figure out. Sure there have been a few dashes of diversity added in recent years but, again, Dr. Greco is calling for “old morality” so this makes me wonder what he and his old morality colleagues think of the slightly changing face of AAO leadership.
We can garner clues as to the point of this call to professionalism from listening to Dr. DeLeon’s words in which he seems to yearn for the days when it was illegal to advertise, regret that state dental boards no longer have unlimited power with no restraint on their propensity to crush competition or immunity from consequences and Dr. DeLeon decries the fact that the AAO can’t block new dental schools being built. He further seems to suggest that he and his fellow SOE members should impress upon CODA the need to change the rules for accreditation in an attempt to accomplish through CODA paperwork what is forbidden by the law of the land. I’m sure these same kinds of suggestions for opposition to the new were made by elder statesmen when women and non-whites first tried to enter the sacred halls of dental schools. Though these may seem disparate motives and circumstances, one only need look at both scenarios from the point of view that the dental establishment will always fight to protect itself from anything it sees as a threat to the status quo. Anything. Be that females, “other” races, people of different beliefs or, in the last week, anyone or anything who wants to compete with established doctors for the right to service the public. Even the public that the orthodontic establishment refuses to treat!
Here’s the funny part. Even after the dental establishment is forced to incorporate the changes they vehemently opposed and it becomes obvious that there was never any “danger to the public”, we still refuse to admit we were wrong and go ahead like nothing ever happened. It’s amazing to look back at the history of orthodontics and dentistry in general to watch this scenario repeat itself over and over and over… Will we ever learn?
To his credit, Dr. DeLeon did put up a slide “showing” that “more dental schools will not solve the access problem” but one doesn’t need to be an expert in psychology to see how little time he spends on this “study” or that he chose his words carefully when talking about the results. It was like watching a doctor saying to a patient that a prescribed medicine would not solve the disease so they shouldn’t take it… while knowing that the medicine would certainly alleviate the symptoms and put the patient on the road to recovery over time.
How is it possible that such a large group of very smart people can not only think this way but never even consider the possibility that the party line is flawed? Are we so caught up in our echo chamber that we don’t realize that by only considering our point of view and the point of view of those who agree with us that we are multiplying our innate confirmation bias to our detriment? It boggles the mind and saddens me greatly to watch. How can we refuse to recognize that the world has changed, patients have changed and that we only service a tiny fraction of our fellow Americans? How can we be so arrogant to believe that everything done in a “traditional office” turns out roses and anything other than that consistently renders rotten results and is dangerous? Our emotions rule us and have blinded us to the assumptions we’ve held so long that we don’t even recognize as such any longer.
I truly hope the profession and our member organization come to their senses but I am far from optimistic that reality will be able to break through. Oh well, we are consistent if nothing else.