The opportunity to participate in the specialty of endodontics is a unique privilege that requires great responsibility. No other specialty requires the application of so many aspects of the dental profession. To be successful the endodontist must 1) integrate diagnostic and treatment planning skills, 2) develop exceptional technical skills and expertise in performing surgical and nonsurgical procedures, 3) apply knowledge of anatomy and morphology, pharmacology, microbiology, inflammation and immunology, pathology, pain, radiology, and biomaterials and 4) manage a complex array of clinical problems. This must be accomplished in an atmosphere characterized by unprecedented change in science and technology.

When I was nominated and elected to serve on the American Board of Endodontics in 1994, Dr. Ed Osetek was the featured speaker at the Grossman Luncheon. In his presentation entitled “The Obligation of the Privileged,” Dr. Osetek spoke on mentoring. He eloquently described the obligation of Diplomates to encourage and support candidates willing to pursue the board certification process and outlined the characteristics of a mentor. However, obligations should not be restricted to current Diplomates. All endodontists have the responsibility to advance and strengthen the specialty. One way to do this is through the board certification process.

While many reasons can be given for pursuing board certification, individuals completing the process often note that they have become better clinicians. While this may not have been an initial goal, the certification process resulted in a synthesis of knowledge and permitted the development of treatment philosophies based on science. Individual benefits of the process include increased knowledge, enhanced patient care, a commitment to continued excellence, and the personal satisfaction and recognition of completing a difficult examination process.

Why pursue this voluntary process, why sacrifice time and energy to be a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics? Because the board certification process is the essence of continued growth and development for the professional. The concepts that are learned last a lifetime.

They define the mechanism for maintaining enthusiasm for the specialty. It marks the transition for learning in a structured academic environment directed by a mentor to self-instruction and exposure to varied philosophies. It is a professional investment in the future.  It identifies individuals committed to the pursuit of excellence.

So with the privilege to practice endodontics, accept the responsibility for your professional future. The greatest asset you possess is your knowledge and technical expertise. Invest in yourself and enjoy the personal satisfaction that comes with the commitment to excellence that board certification offers.

The Directors of the American Board are dedicated to maintaining a process that is fair, valid, and reliable. Diplomate status is a realistic, attainable goal for all endodontists. Begin the journey now! For with the knowledge comes wisdom.

William T. Johnson, D.D.S., M.S.
Past President, American Board of Endodontics and American Association of Endodontists