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IDA names Dr. Terry Schechner president


The IDA has announced Dr. Terry Schechner, a pediatric dentist in Valparaiso, Ind.,  as its new president. Dr. Schechner, who has practiced since 1985, has served in various IDA leadership roles.

Dr. Schechner began his term as president after the 2011 IDA Annual Session held in French Lick, Ind., June 9-11.

In an email interview, Dr. Schechner shared his vision and goals for his upcoming year as president. 

IDA: When did you graduate from dental school, and with what degrees and specialties?

TS: I graduated from IUSD in 1982 with a DDS. I went to Case Western Reserve School of Dentistry and earned a certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 1984. I started a private practice in August of 1984 and finally became an owner of my practice in 1994.

IDA: Why do you enjoy being an IDA member?
TS: I enjoy being an IDA member because of the friendships I have made. Membership and involvement afforded me an opportunity to make myself known in the dental community, so that I did not have to go around soliciting people to refer me patients. I have always wanted to make a difference in promoting our profession to the fullest because I do believe it is the greatest job on earth.

IDA: Why is it important to celebrate dentists who have laid the foundation for the profession in years past?

TS: Dentists that came before us worked hard to get the profession to where it is today. They did not make the money, have the technology, or have the best techniques that we take for granted today, but they did take pride in their work and tried their best to be as meticulous and precise as they could be with the resources they had available at the time. There seems to be a disconnect with younger dentists, in that they don't seem to take the same interest in the profession as those in years past. I think a huge part of it is that they come out of school so far in debt that they have to hit the ground running in order to keep their heads above water. This isn't their fault. The truth today, however, is that their ability to enjoy all that this great profession has to offer is being threatened on so many fronts that they cannot ignore the need for getting involved. Many of us 50-somethings don't have much longer to practice and will be fading away. If the younger dentists don't take ownership of the profession and sacrifice some time to fight for it, I'm afraid that they will not be enjoying the fruits of our profession as we do now. The older dentists and their examples of ethics, service and professionalism must be guarded for the future of dentistry.

IDA: Why is it important to intentionally reach out to new dentists and dental students?

TS: Reaching out to younger dentists, as I mentioned, keeps continuity of involvement in the profession so that when us old guys are gone, there is no loss in the intensity of our message or standards. 

IDA: If you accomplish only one thing while you are president, what do you want it to be?

TS: I want to have the IDA and the component dental societies working for a common good. I want the young guys and gals who are the future leaders to know how to lead. The IDA staff does a great job in what they do, but the members must also take ownership and start directing the issues. The staff can help define an issue, but it is essentially not their issue. The passion that comes from attacking an issue arises in someone who owns that issues and whose livelihood is directly impacted by the issues. Legislative matters, which I am totally convinced will shape and define what dentistry will be in the next 10 years, can not be left to just Ed Popcheff, the IDA Director of Governmental Affairs. Ed does a great job for us, but I'm sure the legislators are wondering, where are the dentists? Again, as leaders, we need to take ownership and show the powers that be that we are passionate about our profession and will fight for it. Developing our leaders to take this message to their components would be my number one goal.

IDA: What does the IDA do right?

TS: The IDA does a great many things right. I feel that Doug Bush, the IDA Executive Director, has assembled a great staff that can help us achieve anything we want. The staff cannot do this all for us, but we must direct the staff to help and not do. The energy and friendliness of the staff has always impressed me, and the work that they in response to the needs of membership is top-notch.

IDA: How do you hope the IDA grows in coming years?

TS: I would like to see the IDA become an efficient, well-oiled machine in terms of its communication with members, the public and our legislators. We need to put systems in place that will provide timely information so that the appropriate responses can go out without the Association missing a beat. The new website and the current revamping of our communication tools will greatly improve these functions. I would like the Association to be more responsive to our members, and for the members to want to more actively serve their Association.

IDA: What do you see as the number-one advocacy issue for 2011-2012?

TS: Advocacy issues vary state to state. Some states are faced with legislation to establish mid-level providers and a lower-level of oral health for the poor and underserved. This not an issue facing this state now, but it most likely will be in the future. I would like to attack this now before it gets here. The way to do that is to start building relationships with legislators now to educate them about this threat to oral health. The number-one advocacy issue for us in this state now are insurance company issues. We need to have these companies' ability to make decisions for our patients terminated. Their job, as I see it, is to pay a prescribed benefit for a treatment that has been paid for by a premium, and not interfere with procedures decided between the patient and the doctor. For example, insurance companies should not be allowed to set fees for procedures they do not cover or keep premiums paid for benefits when two insurance plans are invoved. The insurance companies need to be the servants of there customers and not the other way around.

IDA: What do you see as the number-one membership issue for 2011-2012?

TS: Retention is the number-one issue for membership. In the hard economic times that we are facing now, dentists are struggling to make ends meet and are trying to cut unnecessary expenses. We need to demonstrate that membership in the IDA is a necessary and important expense -- an investment. We must change uninvolved dentists' perceptions of member benefits so they realize the critical need for IDA membership.

IDA: Is there anything else you would like to add?
TS: I am looking forward to my year as president and hope to move theAssociation forward. I want every member to take ownership of their profession and their Association. Everyone is welcome and no one will be turned away. I've heard people say that this an "Old Boy's Club," but believe me, if they would let a nerd like me in, it can't be too exclusive.

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Will Sears, Director of Communications

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