WELL BEING IS FOR EVERYONE
by Paul Roberts
MDA Foundation & Outreach Director
Written Summer 2015
One of the most important and least known changes in recent years at your Missouri Dental Association has been the evolution of the MDA Well Being Foundation. Originally mandated by the Missouri Dental Board (MDB) as a confidential program for impaired dentists and hygienists, and known as the Well Being Committee, it has expanded its mission from supporting chemically-dependent providers and their families, to helping all members with their total health issues.
First, a condensed history. In the early 1980s the MDA established the “Committee on the Impaired Dentist” to help chemically dependent dentists. In the late 1980s this developed into a collaborative relationship with the Missouri Dental Board and eventually led to well-being issues being addressed in the Missouri Dental Practice Act. In the late 1990s, the Missouri Legislature passed legislation establishing funding and structure for future operations, with oversight by the Dental Board.
The Dental Board contracts with the MDA to provide the services outlined in the Dental Practice Act. The MDA, in turn, contracts with Rebecca Mowen to serve as the coordinator of the Well Being Program. A Reference and Action Guide was set up in 2006 to serve as an organizational structure. It is reviewed annually, and revised as needed. The Program, in spite of budget restraints, has been a life-saving resource for dental professionals.
Under the chairmanship of Dr. William Kane, the Committee has been an advocate for members being disciplined by the MDB for substance abuse, a support group for those in recovery (and their families), a resource for family members seeking intervention in a loved one’s addiction, and an aide in coordination of care with treatment centers. All of this was accomplished by volunteers who were in recovery themselves.
In 2015, the Well Being Program is just one aspect of all the resources offered by the Dental Well Being Foundation. In 2010, the Well Being team decided that while the Well Being Program was a great asset for the MDA and the profession of dentistry, it did not “help all members succeed”, as it was focused on a small portion of the MDA membership. The decision was made to change the Well Being mission to be more wellness focused, and change its identity from sickness-based to a mission of prevention and total health, with a positive “pro-provider” feel. The mission of the Well Being Foundation now reads: To promote a healthy dental professional, dental team and their families by providing education, resources, and support. A new logo reflecting this new mission is being developed.
The fulfillment of this mission is a work in progress, but progress is indeed being made. A fitness walk past the state Capitol in Jefferson City was conducted at last November’s MDA House of Delegates. Presentations have been made to the Greater Kansas City Dental Society, and MDA editor, Dr. Jim Nail discussed ergonomics at a breakfast meeting at January’s Winter Session in Columbia. Upcoming events include presentations to dental students at UMKC and ATSU and to new dentists at the Connect4Success meeting at the Lake of the Ozarks in June. Additionally, there will be a fitness element and profile table in the volunteer area at MOMOM this summer in Columbia.
The Well Being Foundation has started to gather resources and referrals that members, their staffs and families can use to address health and fitness issues including: conflict resolution, weight management, nutrition, ergonomics and counseling. These topics are applicable to all MDA members, young and old alike. Hurdles remain, however. Time and money to research and properly structure marketing and publicity are lagging behind other efforts, due to the number of MDA projects and programs vying for attention. Hopefully, however, this steady progress will continue. In the words of Paul Roberts, Director of the MDA Well Being Foundation, “We have passion and energy and vision but we are still young as a Foundation and have far to go.”
Watch for new information continuing to become available, as well as new Well Being events at the state and component level as your MDA continues to “help all members succeed”.
One of the most important and least known changes in recent years at your Missouri Dental Association has been the evolution of the MDA Well Being Foundation.
The fulfillment of this mission is a work in progress, but progress is indeed being made.