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.

4 thoughts on “What Is The Main Focus Of The AAO?

  1. #AAOfail we know why our profession is stuggling, misinformation and gaps in public knowledge. The AAO has not done a better job educating the public and so specialists are over run by generalists performing lower quality services often for the same fees as a specialist. The public is none the wiser and so our profession struggles.

  2. It may be time to quit fighting it and go with the flow, Susan.

  3. I’d like to take a moment to show a word-for-word conversation with Vranas. I believe in doing rather than complaining and this was one of many efforts to do that. Posting this is yet another effort to disrupt the system for the better.

    Me: Hello,

    As a member of the AAO, I think it should be the duty of AAO members that are on the CODA board to divulge their actions and points of view. If they get to vote on accreditation of dental or specialty programs, can we know what these votes are? Can we know what efforts they’ve made to ensure and even improve the current state of dental education. Isn’t it fair to ask that our members document how they are representing the profession?

    Case in point, how does AAO representation on CODA feel about the Georgia School of Orthodontics and it’s application for accreditation? Does it feel an appropriate standard of education can be achieved with the proposed structure? With the plan to graduate 18 orthodontists per year, is there an acceptable number of qualified faculty?

    Vranas: Good afternoon and thank you for your email. Do you have a time that I may call you to discuss?


    Chris P. Vranas, CAE
    Executive Director
    American Association of Orthodontists
    314-993-1700, ext. 512

    Me: Hello Dr. Vranas (I assumed he was an orthodontist),

    I am very busy working 3 jobs. I teach. I associate and I am building my own private practice. Any free time goes to my family. Honestly, email is best.

    Vranas never responded.

    A little back story is warranted. I’ve spoken to Vranas before by phone and it didn’t really go anywhere despite being a very long conversation. It is true that I really don’t have 30 minutes to take out of my life to speak on the phone. Call me cynical but I believe Vranas doesn’t want to document in writing what we as dues paying members deserve to know. For convenience, I will be a member of the AAO through to the San Diego Annual Session. After that, I’m just not sure the thousands I’ve paid in dues will deliver adequate return on investment when I can’t get answers to some very simple questions.

  4. Joseph,
    You’re not in his target demographic. He’s already getting your money…

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