Well, well, boys and girls - you get me twice this week.
Dr. G is "at a meeting." If you are a non-dentist, that is code for "on vacation," because, as you must know, dentists do not take vacations. So he asked me to fill in on Wednesday as well. Maybe I'll see if a "guest blogger" can write something on that day.
Or maybe I'll continue today's topic because it is the beginning of Silly Season in AGD land.
See, the annual meeting in New Orleans starts in just over a week. And, as all good AGDers know, with the annual meeting comes the annual House of Delegates (or HOD for short). If you haven't ever experienced the HOD it is a lot like summer camp. We sing songs, play games, do crafts, braid each other's hair, play practical jokes on each other, etc. . .
Seriously, we sing (National Anthem and Canadian Anthem).
We play games (more on that below, but for now we'll call it debating resolutions).
We do crafts - have you ever tried to sit through 15 hours of debate on resolutions? Last year, I did origami and colored pictures, did crossword puzzles. . . .
We braid each other's hair (OK, that may be a stretch but I'm game if anyone gets really bored).
You get the idea.
See, the HOD is the governance wing of the AGD.
To use SAT language: The House of Delegates is to the Academy of General Dentistry as the House of Representatives is to the United States of America.
There are delegates from each state, Canada and the Armed Forces. These delegates work very hard leading up to the HOD reading several hundred pages of resolutions that have been submitted (including the annual budget). They meet in regional caucuses (or is it cocusae/cocusi?) where they talk about these resolutions and their impact on that particular region/state (you know who you are, California). They decide how they can best frame an argument for/against a particular resolution and sometimes they even begin to lobby their friends and colleagues from around the country to support their position. Then, they come to New Orleans 3 days before the Annual Meeting starts, taking 3 days out of their practices, to convene, debate and vote on these resolutions. It is all very official and serious.
Now, I do not mean to trivialize what we do (this is my 3rd year as a delegate), but it can really get you turned upside down with what is actually vital to life. Have you ever been part of something like that?
Every year I tell myself to relax; life or death decisions are not on the line. Yes, it is important that the AGD have a policy statement on how Regional Directors are elected and how many years they can serve if appointed mid-term, but that decision is not going to cure what ails the world. Still, during the Silly Season, issues like that (and others of more significance to the practice of dentistry) get debated and it is so hard not to allow yourself to be consumed by it. You start to take things personalky. Your text message inbox gets filled with "strategy." You get phone calls/emails in the weeks leading up to the meeting. So, by the time you get there, you are using language like, "Resolution 314R is properly debated during old business because it was referred to a taskforce for further information during the 2009 HOD," or "the Point of Order microphone is not to be used to debate the motion on the floor." You get the idea; this is language that no one in the real world uses.
Since I get 2 bites of the apple this week (that one was for you, Srini), I will talk about some of the resolutions on Wednesday. But let me end this week with an issue that has involved a significant amount of my time for the last year.
See the AGD has debated for years about whether or not to form a PAC. For the uninitiated, a PAC is a vehicle by which a corporation can make donations to a political candidate (for instance, the ADA, the Oral Surgeons, Orthodontists and Hygienists, and AARP all have a PAC). Anyway, there has been a resolution that is coming before the HOD to have the AGD form a PAC. I had the privilege of serving on a committee that was asked by the 2009 HOD to outline the way a PAC can be formed (I'm paraphrasing there). This committee was chaired by one of my mentors and a dear friend, Dr. Gary Heyamoto (talk about a thankless job) and I want to thank him publicly (or blogicaly) here for being an incredible son, husband, father, dentist, friend and AGD leader.
Now, form a PAC or don't form a PAC? I do have personal feelings on it; but you'll need to attend the HOD to hear them. But let's be serious for a second: there are infinitely more important issues facing this world than whether the AGD forms a PAC.
However, this issue is such a hot button issue that when a colleague of mine (who is a delegate and AGD leader) sends out an email soliciting input from the general AGD membership on whether they would donate to an AGD PAC, he gets inundated with personal attack phone calls and emails - even to the point of playground "let,s not let him play with us" threats.
See I told you it was like summer camp - we even have bullies.
I'm going to leave it there for now (can't wait to see if this gets approved for publication) and would love to hear the non-delegates' thoughts on whether you would donate to a PAC.
On Wednesday, I'll mention a couple of other issues that the HOD will be facing. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy being a dentist and continue to thank God that I live in a country where I'm allowed to debate minutiae.
I Love Silly Season.
Have a great 2 days.