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The Challenge of Leadership

Brian Scott, DDS, President, California Dental Association

July 19, 2008

Nostradamus was a 16th-century French prophet and visionary. He had a unique talent in being able to look around himself, take in information from what he observed and make very accurate predictions about the future. I am going to borrow on some of his talent and make my own observations right now. As I view all of you sitting before me, I can see that I am looking out at the future leaders of oral health care.

Right now your main focus is developing your knowledge and your clinical skills which will allow you to become one of the best educated and most skilled oral health care practitioner s in the world. You are all blessed with being students in one of the finest programs in our profession that can be found anywhere in the world. You will develop into the best prepared and most skilled oral health care practitioners in the world. You will be successful though it will involve many hours of your time and a tremendous amount of work. From this you will gain a great deal of personal satisfaction and it will be the fastest two years in your life.

As you move forward in your chosen profession there will come a time when more is going to be more asked of you than just oral health care delivery. Soon you will be passed the mantel of leadership in our profession. I know that all of you will one day be stepping forward to guide and to shape our professions as your future unfolds. That willingness to give of yourself will allow our profession the ability to do what truly reaches the needs of the oral health care of the people of our communities, our state and our country.

There will be many opportunities to take the lead, to take the high ground and help protect our professions ability to advance and to meet the need of our public. These opportunities will come in many forms: education of current and future professionals, research into new techniques, materials and efforts to better understand oral disease, regulatory efforts, efforts to ease access to care issues and involvement and leadership in organized dentistry, to name a few of these areas.

So, as I look at our profession's future, I'll take a page from Nostradamus and predict that your generation will take the mantel, you will join together in what we term the many forms of organized dentistry and organized dental hygiene and give generously of yourselves and your time to leave our shared profession in a stronger place than you found it. You are the future leaders in oral health care and you will do our profession proud.