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ADVOCATING FOR YOUR CHOSEN PROFESSION IS NOT ELECTIVE – IT IS IMPERATIVE.


by Dr. Brian Powley, DDS Chair, Council on Government Affairs, AzDA


The following is an essay by Dr. Brian Powley, given to ASDOH and Midwestern students at Advocacy Bootcamp 2019.

Little to no others outside our profession will take the lead and advocate for dentistry.  You will find others that share our cause and occasionally join in, but the preservation of our profession is in our hands and those who will follow us.

I am in my 31st year of private practice and that makes it my 34th year of advocating for our profession. I became involved early in my dental school years, as our dean was a very strong proponent of organized dentistry and the power that it can collectively yield.

External forces attempting to influence and control dentistry exist and appear to be getting the upper hand.  Will we stand and fight back in order to resist these changes?

Will we sit idly by and watch non-dentists wrestle away the control of the practice and delivery of dental care?  Be that influence over ownership, management and the direction of the delivery of care in a physical plant as well as the processes of renumeration via dental benefit schemes.

Today, these are the greatest challenges to our profession.

True success and profitability in practice comes from dentists wearing three hats.  One as an owner / manager.  You may have a front office “manager” but ultimately, you are the captain of the ship. The second is your role as an investor – it is your sweat equity and capital that makes this ship move!  And thirdly, as the major producer of income for your practice as a clinician.  In giving up one or more of these roles (hats) we have surrendered a portion of the traditional control that dentists have had over the delivery of care to our patients.

“IT TAKES A STRONG COMMITMENT TO ADVOCACY FOR DENTISTRY TO REMAIN STRONG IN THE FACE OF BOTH NON-DENTIST FORCES IN THE PROFESSION AND THIRD PARTY PAYERS THAT ARE BEHOLDEN TO OTHER’S INTERESTS FIRST – NOT PATIENTS.”

It is not politically correct to say it aloud, but there are few others that care more about or at least put the interest of our patients first and foremost than you, the dentist.  If you cannot convey that sentiment in your daily interactions with patients – it will impair your ability to be successful.

I’ve never been elected to office nor taken or shielded the bullets that come with such endeavors.  But I have had the honor to help and serve those that have made the sacrifices required to participate in that arena.

It takes a strong commitment to advocacy for dentistry to remain strong in the face of both non-dentist forces in the profession and third party payers that are beholden to other’s interests first – not patients.  The commoditization of dental services by these external forces is well underway and just like pharmacists and physicians – dentists can either except the same fate or stand and fight.

A critical element to success in advocacy for dental issues is couching most ideas and recommendations to elected officials as “patient-centered.”  As it goes, if it’s good for patients, it should be good for dentists and their teams.

You will not be able to sit by and expect “someone else” to advocate for dentistry.  It must be you.  This is your fourth hat as a dentist.  You cannot rely on anyone else or you will lose control of the message and be on the wrong end of the process – in both statutes and regulations.

I am approaching my last decade being involved at the level that I have been and have enjoyed serving and participating immensely.  We not only hope that future generations of dentists – all of you – keep your hands on the rudder of the ship, it will be required to preserve our profession.


W. Brian Powley, DDS Chair, Council on Government Affairs

Arizona Dental Association

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