I am honoured to be entrusted with this role and look forward to building on the work that Dr. Kareen Mekertichian and the executive have done over the past couple of years.
In particular I think our advocacy around protecting the rights of our patients and their families to access comprehensive dental care under GA has been significant. However, it remains a work in progress and I am grateful to Kareen and others for their ongoing support and commitment to this activity.
If there is one thing the past two years have taught us it is the power and value of connection. To this end I am particularly excited to be supporting a number of initiatives.
Our thanks to Dr. Rebecca Eggers for her leadership in establishing an Academy mentoring program which piloted last year partnering nine recently registered specialists with experienced colleagues across Australia and New Zealand. We are currently seeking feedback from this cohort for a second program to be launched in in 2023. We will be seeking expressions of interest from both young and not so young members in due course.
The AAPD is one of several organisations represented in the Disability and Oral Health Collaboration (DOHC). On its agenda is a proposal to establish a network to support both dental and non-dental health professionals to optimise the oral health of individuals of all ages living with a disability. This project, led by A/Prof Hanny Calache (Deakin University) is still in its infancy. However, if anyone is interested in learning more about this then please contact me directly.
Stepping in to this role, I have taken the opportunity to reach out and contact those amongst our membership who are involved in the teaching and training of paediatric dentistry at all levels in our universities.
I think it is safe to say that the pandemic has hit our academic institutions particularly hard and the pressure on our clinical academic staff has been and remains immense. Furthermore, internationally there is a recognised shortage in the clinical dental academic workforce and neither Australia nor New Zealand is exempt. To date I have really enjoyed and have been inspired by the passion, commitment and creativity of those to whom I have spoken.
The next step is to bring this group of academics and educators together in a collegial and collaborative manner to explore ways in which we can work together, harness synergies and to understand how we, the Academy, might support the education of our next generation of dental professionals.
Finally, the executive has met several times since the AGM and is currently in the process of organising an ‘in-person’ conference in early 2023. I cannot wait to actually catch up with as many of you as possible in person to share learning, food and fun. In the meantime, I would like to invite and indeed encourage anyone with any ideas, suggestions or questions to contact me.
We are a unique group of individuals who bring an amazing diversity of skills, attitudes and beliefs to the one goal; that of optimising the oral health and care of children and adolescents in our community. I am keen to harness this diversity and build an even stronger and sustainable specialty.
Dr. Nicky Kilpatrick