Promoting leadership and international co-operation within the profession
At a gathering in the Dublin Dental Hospital in Trinity College over the summer, Professor Brian O’Connell was awarded Fellowship of the Pierre Fauchard Academy (PFA). Professor O’Connell, Dean of Dental Studies, was being recognised by the PFA for his longstanding leadership within the profession and his sustained contributions to professional education.
The incoming President of the PFA, Dr Terry Brunwick, bestowed this honour in person on behalf of the Academy. Dr Brewick travelled from the USA with key staff from the Pierre Fauchard Academy (PFA) – whose headquarters are in Logan, Utah.
The Pierre Fauchard Academy is an honorary dental service organisation that was founded in 1936 by Dr Elmer S. Best, a Minnesota dentist. Dr Best wished to help the profession and guide it, particularly in the area of scientific literature. His passionate concern for the search for knowledge and the raising of professional standards laid the ground work for the beginning of the Academy. This attracted outstanding dental researchers and teachers to its ranks, and led to a continuing role in fostering dental science.
The Academy is named after Pierre Fauchard of France (1678-1761), who is recognised as the “Father of Modern Dentistry” for raising dentistry to a profession. He compiled a book entitled Le Chirurgien Dentiste, ou Traité des Dents which is widely considered to be the first published textbook of dentistry. The Constitution of the Pierre Fauchard Academy laid out a series of objectives, honouring Dr Best’s focus on integrity and ethics.
A primary objective at the time of its founding, was a focus on peer-reviewed scientific literature – looking at all aspects of dentistry.
Fellowship in the Academy is by nomination and is designed to honour past accomplishments in the field of dentistry and inspire future productivity.
Professional leaders select fellows based on contributions to dental literature, service to the profession of dentistry, and service to the general community, thereby bringing credit to dentistry. These are among some of the criteria sought in recruiting new members. The Academy has its own publication programme with Dental World and Dental Abstracts, and has always encouraged its fellow members to contribute to dental education and dental literature. Through its Foundation, it offers financial support to various dental projects that increase access to care for underserved populations and scholarships to dental student both in the USA and around the world. Among the current projects supported by the Pierre Fauchard Academy include many humanitarian projects – such as “Missions of Mercy” in the USA – known as MOMs.
Mission of Mercy events across America have been providing free dental services for the underserved since 2000. Each year, more state organisations have joined the effort to make a difference. Mission of Mercy events have helped more than 135,000 patients and provided $76 million in free services since 2000. Further afield, the PFA supports “Australian Rescue Days” and also “Donate a Smile – Dental Relief Project: Central Africa Republic” among others. At the undergraduate level, the PFA supports a “White Coat Ceremony” – akin to the “Clinical Pledge” ceremony in UCC – which marks that important transition from classroom to clinic.
The Pierre Fauchard Academy is currently comprised of nearly 11,000 Fellows divided into 142 sections, 55 in the United States and another 87 in many other parts of the world, including South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
The Academy is administered by a Board of Trustees consisting of four Officers and ten Trustees from around the world. Section organisation includes a Chairperson and such other officers or committee members as the Section may elect. The administrative office of the Academy is located in Logan, Utah.
I have been involved with the PFA for over a decade. Recently I was nominated Section Head for Ireland, following on from the trojan work of Professor Robin O’Sullivan (RCSI) and Professor Christopher Lynch (UCC). I am eager to expand the goals and objectives established by this charitable organisation. To that end, along with our committee, we plan to host a day of lectures covering aspects affecting day to day provision of general practice. It will also showcase the Academy’s mission and charitable endeavours and goals. In talking with Incoming President, Dr Brewick, the PFA is eager to identify new and emerging leaders within the profession and help foster this spirit of leadership and collegiality that has is the hallmark of PFA worldwide.
My thanks to the PFA Headquarters staff who made the trip from Utah – and congratulations once more to Professor O’Connell on the fellowship. We marked the occasion with a celebratory event in Dublin, graciously sponsored by Dental Care Ireland.