College of Diplomates Manual
For Candidates for Certification as a
Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics
And Their Mentors
The opinions expressed in this Guide are solely those of the members of the College of Diplomates, and do not represent, in any way, the official voice of the American Board of Endodontics. Remember that the final word rests with the American Board of Endodontics. Remember to read, understand and follow all current instructions and guidance published by the American Board of Endodontics (http://www.aae.org/certBoard/ ).
This edition of the College of Diplomates Mentoring Manual is dedicated to the Diplomates who actively serve as Mentors to ABE candidates. May the selfless donation of their time and knowledge be continued by new Diplomates.
We acknowledge with thanks the following members of the College of Diplomates for their significant contributions to the development of the first edition of the mentoring manual namely:
Dr. M. Lamar Hicks, Editor
Dr. Leif K Bakland Dr. Charles Jerome
Dr. Gerald N. Glickman Dr. Keith V. Krell
Dr. John W. Harrison Dr. Edward J. Strittmatter, Jr.
The current Board of Directors of the College of Diplomates (COD) wishes to acknowledge The American Board of Endodontics for its efforts in advancing our specialty and for the use of its Certification Information available directly from the ABE website.
We additionally acknowledge all of the past Directors of the COD who have so graciously given of their time and talents to ensure that the mission of the COD is effectively carried out. They include:
Leif K. Bakland Martha Proctor
Stuart Fountain Cindy Rauschenberger,
Lamar Hicks Eric Rivera
John Lundgren James Simon
Thomas Mork A. Eddy Skidmore
Carl Newton Edward J. Strittmatter, Jr.
The 2007-08 Board of Directors of the College of Diplomates
George Goodis, President
Harold Goodis, Secretary
Joseph Dovgan, Treasurer/Website
Debra Meadows, Pinnacle Editor
André Mickel, Director of Mentoring
Sandra Madison, Charles Cunningham & Marc Balson: Directors
Lastly, the Board of Directors gratefully acknowledges the contributions and talents of Susan Hawkinson. Her dedication and efforts on behalf of the College of Diplomates are greatly appreciated.
Promoting Board Certification
Board certification is a privilege and carries with it a responsibility to maintain the specialty of endodontics as a highly respected discipline and one that encourages each specialist member to adhere to the highest standards of practice. The College of Diplomates would hope that one day all endodontists would take advantage of the opportunity to earn the distinction of being a DIPLOMATE OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF ENDODONTICS. To that end, the following plan has been proposed.
Introduction to Board Certification Begins in the Endodontics Program
Endodontic program directors must imbue to each resident the value of becoming a Diplomate. Program directors can accomplish this by a number of means. The first is by inspiring their residents to be life-long students and realize that their education in the specialty of endodontics is never completed. Board certification is just the beginning of this life-long process. By taking the written exam in June of their final year of endodontic training, the resident probably has the best chance of recalling the information that they have learned in their program. Directors should strongly encourage that residents take the written exam while still in their endodontic program. Additionally, immediately upon graduation, new graduates should be “strongly urged” to complete the preliminary application to the ABE in a timely manner. The newest change (April, 2007) in the Boarding process has eliminated the minimum time requirements for association with the specialty of endodontics. This now means that a well prepared resident could complete (pass) the written exam in June and submit their case portfolio in the fall of the same year. If the case portfolio passes, then the candidate could sit for the Oral examination in the spring of the following year of graduation.
This most recent change gives the program directors a new challenge, namely helping the residents get Board quality cases identified, treated, recalled and written-up. It is important that program directors assure that all residents receive the information on Board certification procedures that is sent to each resident by the American Board of Endodontics. The most recent revisions concerning Board certification changes can be found at the www.aae.org and the ABE link. CDs are also available which contain all the forms and materials used by the ABE. Each director should make a copy for themselves and be thoroughly knowledgeable about the process, as there are periodic revisions.
Program directors should also promote the pursuit of Board certification by all past residents. It is incumbent that each candidate has sufficient knowledge of all three phases of the Board certification process. The program directors should provide comprehensive literature/book reviews to help solidify residents’ knowledge of evidence-based endodontics; ensure that each resident has sufficient knowledge experience of what is expected in preparation of an ABE case portfolio; and prepare each resident for the ABE oral exam, by giving frequent oral exams. If these objectives are met, the candidate should be well-prepared to pursue Diplomate status.
Every endodontic program should have a “Board Certification Ambassador” (a program director, a specific faculty member, or an alumnus of the program), whose job would be to ensure that the “flame of the Board Certification fire” is initially lit and remains ablaze.” The Board Certification Ambassador would be similar in purpose to the AAE Foundation Ambassador.
Some Board candidates may not need a full time mentor but may have a few questions or would like some feedback on a particular topic. The College of Diplomates uses the COD website (collegeofdiplomates.org) to allow candidates to post questions that can be viewed by all. These questions can then be answered by either members of the COD Board or any mentor who may have experience in the particular area being questioned.
Mentoring the Mentors
The COD Board encourages candidates and mentors to attend the Boardwalk given by the ABE at each AAE Annual Session Meeting. This is an opportunity to hear, directly from the ABE, about any revisions in the Board certification process. Additionally, valuable advice is offered by the participating Board members on preparing and sitting for the different portions of the examination.
Geographical Mentors/Board Certification Ambassadors
The COD maintains a listing of mentors through the Board Certification Ambassador Program. These are Diplomates who are affiliated with endodontic programs across the country who are willing to serve as mentors to candidates who would like to have someone in their geographical area provide one-on-one guidance through the Board process. Any COD member who volunteers to be a Board Certification Ambassador / mentor must be thoroughly knowledgeable of the Board certification process so that they can accurately advise the prospective Diplomate.
The College of Diplomates offers to each new Diplomate a free one year membership to the COD. In return, the COD Directors encourages the new Diplomate to volunteer to serve as mentor to a candidate for Board certification. To volunteer, please contact one of the Directors of the COD or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diplomate status is a realistic goal for well-prepared candidates who remain zealous in their pursuit of knowledge and clinical skill as they practice and teach the specialty of endodontics.
Board certification in endodontics and the purposes for which it exists transcend educational background and national considerations. An endodontist pursues Board certification because being a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontic (ABE) makes a very clear and strong statement of the value the Diplomate places on attaining mastery in the specialty of endodontics, receiving a most significant acknowledgement of professional achievement, and being accountable to the public by adhering to the highest standards of practice that peer review can set. It represents a philosophy of professional conduct, practice, and sustained achievement that places great worth on being the best one can be and provides the finest and most comprehensive endodontic care to a deserving public.
As a mentor of a candidate for Board certification in endodontics, one has an extraordinary opportunity to emphasize the meaning and value of attaining Diplomate status. The mentor also has the opportunity to describe in their own unique way the enormous satisfaction that is felt on having achieved a singularly commendable and exceedingly challenging goal after years of preparation, commitment, and sacrifice.
Once attained, Board certification cannot be cheapened or tarnished, but continues to shine brightly and have clear meaning and unmistakable value for those who succeed in the process. The mentors are entrusted with the responsibility of perpetuation and improving the specialty of endodontics through the noblest of pursuits. This manual is written with the express purpose of enabling the mentor to better carry out this responsibility by being more effective as a mentor.
“A Mentor’s Guide to Board Certification in Endodontics” contains four main sections plus pertinent instructions and forms published by the American Board of Endodontics. The first main section is devoted to the general topic of mentorship and a discussion of the role and responsibilities of a mentor. The second section focuses on the Written Examination and contains many suggestions for finding resources, organizing materials, and developing strategies for studying for this examination.
The longest section of the manual is devoted to the development of an acceptable Case Histories Portfolio. This section includes interpretation of the ABE’s detailed instructions, identification of areas critical for success, and recommendations and suggestions for the mentor to use when working with a candidate on a case report documentation and narrative.
The fourth section covers preparation for the Oral Examination. It contains valuable information on what candidates can expect in the oral examination environment, examples of oral questions, and information on how the exam is conducted. This section also has some excellent tips, and recommendations from several Diplomates who have recently completed ABE certification pertaining to methods that were successful for them in preparing for the oral exam.
Because the policies, procedures, and philosophy of the ABE are continually updated, the content of this manual will change over time. Hence, the manual will be a dynamic document constantly under review and periodically revised. It is important to realize that what is current today may not be current tomorrow. The ABE conducts a one and one-half hour information seminar entitled “The Boardwalk” at the annual session of the American Association of Endodontists. This seminar covers all aspects of the Board certification process and provides a forum where the changes in Board policy and procedures are announced. As a mentor of Board candidates, you and your prospective Diplomate are encouraged to attend this highly informative session.
The officers and directors of the College of Diplomates welcome and encourage your input at any time on how the College can better facilitate the journey of Board candidates through the certifying examination of the ABE. Together we can strengthen the specialty of endodontics, enhance the attractiveness of pursuing Board certification, and heighten the esteem and recognition of an increasing number of endodontists who successfully navigate the long but highly rewarding process that leads to the title Diplomate.
The Board of Directors of the College of Diplomates
The word “mentor is a term that is difficult to define precisely. Despite that, the term is commonly used today in the educational, professional, and business communities. Historically the term was personified by Homer in the person (Mentor) entrusted with the education and life counseling of Odysseus’s son during his father’s long absence during the Trojan Wars. In the Greek language, the word mentor came to mean “trusted friend and counselor.” In the Latin, it referred to “one who thinks.” Although an easy transition from antiquity to a modern definition may be wanting, the characteristics, functions, and supporting framework of mentoring have been described and widely discussed by numerous authors. What follows is a brief attempt to capture the essence of the terms “mentor” and “mentoring.” Where possible it is done in the context of the pursuit of Board certification in endodontics.
A successful mentor of Board candidates possesses three important characteristics: competence, confidence, and commitment. The competence arises from having the appropriate knowledge, the experience of having successfully traveled the road to Board certification and the ability to command (earn) respect from others. A mentor is competent in the skills associated with assist functions. These include coaching, counseling, communicating, instructing, and establishing good interpersonal relations. The more frequently these skills are used and the more up-to date the knowledge base, applications and philosophies are in exercising these skills, the more valuable they become to the mentor and the mentored. A successful mentor is competent to build on the mentoree’s strengths, to offer constructive criticism and feedback, and to provide a reliable source of information and resources. Finally, the mentor is able to promote good judgment.
A mentor has the confidence to be imaginative, to demonstrate initiative, and to lead and offer clear direction. The mentor also can deal successfully with another’s foibles and biases. He/she can set aside self-recognition for the inner satisfaction and great pride in the achievement of the mentoree.
The best mentors are the ones who are committed to the investment of time, energy, and effort in a distinctly different type of working relationship. They are also committed to sharing personal experiences, knowledge, and skills. They have a pronounced desire to pass on to a succeeding generation of professionals the fruits of their own experiences and labors. They are people-oriented and have a keen interest in seeing others develop their work and succeed in a long, challenging process.
That which we do in the mentoring relationship carries out the functions of mentoring. Dr. B.G. Bibby, a former Director of the Eastman Dental Center, succinctly summarized these functions a half century ago in a speech at a general meeting of the International Association of Dental Research. Table 1 outlines these functions.