I had an interesting conversation with Chris Vranas, the Executive Director of the AAO, at the ADSO Summit in Vegas last weekend. He was there with the current and soon to be new Presidents of the AAO. Just before the presidents spoke to the CEO session of the ADSO, Mr. Vranas spent a minute telling me about what the AAO was up to and why the AAO was far superior and “way out in front” in their efforts compared to the other speciality member groups and the ADA.
“They just don’t get it”, he told me and the presidents (and I’m paraphrasing because I only took cursory notes and I don’t have a recording). “The ADA is really out of touch. I talked to ________ [I don’t remember the name but it seemed to be someone in charge at the ADA] and they don’t see the value of dealing with the ADSO. The ADA has really dropped the ball and is losing membership. They are failing to convert students and just can’t get their head out of the sand.” Vranas continued.
And I found this commentary very insightful. It would appear the real goal of the AAO and any other traditional membership organization is to increase membership and increase revenue. I guess this should be obvious if you follow the money and realize how the people who run these types of top heavy member organizations get paid and receive benefits… but I’m none too bright and I thought the membership organization was about protecting and promoting the profession. Obviously I was wrong. Again.
I’m sure that after reading this those in power in the AAO will say something like, “We have to have everyone in the profession as a member of the AAO to have the authority to speak for the profession and get things done. That is why we focus on increasing and maintaining membership”.
To which I would reply, “It seems like one of those ‘cart and horse’ situations. If the AAO was doing a good job of speaking for the profession, if the public actually knew what an orthodontist was and if the AAO would promote orthodontists over GPs instead of ABO orthodontists above other orthodontists, do you really think they would have any problems signing up members?”
For clarity, let’s look at what the AAO Executive Director DIDN’T say:
Mr. Vranas didn’t say, “The ADA is failing because they aren’t representing the dues paying ADA members.”
Mr. Vranas didn’t say the ADA had their heads in the sand, “Because the ADA isn’t advancing the needs of dental professionals.”
Mr. Vranas didn’t even say, “The ADA has dropped the ball because they aren’t explaining to the public why they should visit the dental professionals who pay ADA dues instead of some competing professionals.”
The ADA has their heads in the sand, “because they are losing membership and are failing to convert students,” is what he said. And fair enough I guess. At least Mr. Vranas is looking out for his best interests and the best interests of the AAO leadership. That’s more than I can say for the rest of us.