Membership Level vs. Credential

Members that achieve Accreditation are critical to the AACD’s governance structure.  Therefore, it made sense, when the Academy created its membership structure that it created a system that centered on Accreditation. The bylaws state that the AACD has two types of members – Accredited members and General (non-Accredited) members.  Additional levels of membership are sub-categories of the two main categories of membership (Accredited and General) accounted for in the bylaws. Simply stated, the Academy uses the Accreditation credential as a tool to define membership. It is a system that has worked well for the Academy for close to 25 years. However, we must be careful not to limit Accreditation to merely a tool that delineates membership levels within our Academy, as that does little to promote the true value of Accreditation.  We must move beyond the membership model if we want to truly invest in building the reputation of the credential.
By opening the door for non-members of the AACD to pursue Accreditation, the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry (ABCD) is placing the focus of Accreditation on the fact that Accreditation is a credential. The Board wishes to acknowledge and promote Accreditation as:

  • A significant achievement; not just an achievement within the confines of the Academy, but within the scope of the entire profession of dentistry
  • Unbiased;  competency and quality are judged independent of alignment with a particular organization
  • Obtainable for all those who are willing to meet the standard as set forth by the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry
  • A service to the public, not just a self-serving membership benefit

The bylaws of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry charge the American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry with the authority to establish the protocol, standards and requirements for credentialing. This responsibility is taken very seriously. The Accreditation protocols have proactively evolved over the course of the past two decades. Some of the significant changes, to name a few, have been:

  • An evolution of the case types and photographic documentation
  • The adoption of an anonymous format for the submission of clinical cases
  • The creation and introduction of the written examination
  • The creation and introduction of the  oral examination
  • The creation and introduction of a digital photographic protocol
  • The retirement of the analog photographic protocol

 Without this evolution, it is safe to say that Accreditation would not be as strong, visible or defendable as it is today. As the Board has evolved the systems, they have been careful to maintain the standard that Accreditation stands for. Introducing non-member Accreditation is considered an evolution of the system. It is meant to support the standard of excellence that Accreditation represents and increase the value and visibility of Accreditation within the profession.
Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Bakeman
Past Chairman, American Board of Cosmetic Dentistry
December 1, 2008